How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Gardendale Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Gardendale AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Gardendale AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Gardendale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new career in Gardendale AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Gardendale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Gardendale AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Gardendale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Gardendale AL program you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Gardendale AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Gardendale AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Gardendale AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Gardendale home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gardendale AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Gardendale Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gardendale Alabama.