How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Leeds Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Leeds AL, it's time to start 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 receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 and Interior Design
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Leeds AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Leeds AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Leeds AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of 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 provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives 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 degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Leeds AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Leeds AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Leeds AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Leeds AL college you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Leeds AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Leeds AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program 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 provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Leeds AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Leeds home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Leeds AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose in the Right Leeds Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Leeds Alabama.