How to Find the Best Interior Design Course near Helena Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Helena 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 spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate 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 in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Helena AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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 commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on 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, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Helena AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Helena AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven 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 decide to enroll in, make certain to select 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 discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized 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 mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Helena AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline 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.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Helena AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Helena AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Helena AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate training 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 School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Helena AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Helena AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Helena AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Helena home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Helena AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Helena Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Helena Alabama.