How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program near Hartselle Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Hartselle AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them 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, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Hartselle AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main 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 have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Hartselle AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Hartselle AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Hartselle AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded 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 education. 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 option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Hartselle AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Hartselle AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get 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 requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Hartselle AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Hartselle AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Hartselle AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Hartselle AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Hartselle home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hartselle AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Right Hartselle Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hartselle Alabama.