How to Choose the Right Interior Design College near Lincoln Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Lincoln 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 interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since some 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 crucial that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics 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 vs Interior Design
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Lincoln AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus 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, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Lincoln AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new career in Lincoln AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Lincoln AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Lincoln AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions 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 examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Lincoln AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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 requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Lincoln AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance 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 profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Lincoln AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Lincoln AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Lincoln AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Lincoln home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Lincoln AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Lincoln Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential 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 assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lincoln Alabama.