How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Lincoln Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Lincoln AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate 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 essential that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between them is the level of training 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 a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Lincoln AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Lincoln AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new profession in Lincoln AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits 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 required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment 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 components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. 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 desire 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 use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Lincoln AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Lincoln AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Lincoln AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Lincoln AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Lincoln AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Lincoln AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Lincoln AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Lincoln home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask 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, verify that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Lincoln AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Lincoln Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete 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 schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lincoln Alabama.