How to Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Leeds Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Leeds AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But where do you start? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Leeds AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Leeds AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Leeds AL. Your decision 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, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Leeds AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a great 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 option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Leeds AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options 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 factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Leeds AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Leeds AL college you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask 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 sought after. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Leeds AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Leeds AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Leeds AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Leeds home, go to the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Leeds AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Leeds Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important 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 properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Leeds Alabama.