How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Guntersville Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Guntersville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Guntersville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Guntersville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Guntersville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Guntersville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs
After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Guntersville AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Guntersville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Guntersville AL college you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Guntersville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Guntersville AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining 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 effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Guntersville AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Guntersville home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask 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? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Guntersville AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Right Guntersville Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Guntersville Alabama.