How to Select the Best Interior Designer Course near Gulf Shores Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Gulf Shores AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 choices are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Gulf Shores 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 may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Gulf Shores AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in Gulf Shores AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree 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 mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Gulf Shores AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Gulf Shores AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Gulf Shores AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Gulf Shores AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Gulf Shores AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Gulf Shores AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Gulf Shores AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Gulf Shores home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Gulf Shores AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Right Gulf Shores Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gulf Shores Alabama.