How to Select the Best Interior Design College near Greenville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Greenville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Greenville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Greenville AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Greenville AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Greenville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Greenville AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Greenville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Greenville AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Greenville AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Greenville AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Greenville AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Greenville home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Greenville AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Greenville Interior Design School
Picking the right interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review 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 Greenville Alabama.