How to Select the Best Interior Designer College near Irondale Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Irondale 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 imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover 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 mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business 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 trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Irondale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Irondale AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Irondale AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. 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 cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance 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 college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Irondale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs 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 setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Irondale AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. 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 demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Irondale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Irondale AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program'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 schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Irondale AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Irondale AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors 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 may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Irondale AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Irondale home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Irondale AL, make sure 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 process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Irondale Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Irondale Alabama.