How to Find the Right Interior Design College near Guntersville Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Guntersville 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 spaces, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 choices are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have 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 numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Guntersville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must 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, Guntersville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Guntersville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives 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 sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some 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 provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized 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. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt 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 called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Guntersville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Guntersville AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Guntersville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become 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 several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Guntersville AL college you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Guntersville AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Guntersville AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Guntersville AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Guntersville home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic 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 Guntersville AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Right Guntersville Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Guntersville Alabama.