How to Pick the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Greenville Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Greenville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Greenville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Greenville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Greenville AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional 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 comfort of their Greenville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. 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 only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Greenville AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance 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 schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Greenville AL school you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Greenville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Greenville AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Greenville AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Greenville home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program 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 at night or on weekends near Greenville AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Greenville Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Greenville Alabama.