How to Find the Right Interior Design School near Meadowbrook Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Meadowbrook AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills 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 essential that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Meadowbrook AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to 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 primary concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Meadowbrook AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Meadowbrook AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use 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 field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Meadowbrook AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good alternative 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 home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Meadowbrook AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Meadowbrook AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an excellent education, the Meadowbrook AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Meadowbrook AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Meadowbrook AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Meadowbrook AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Meadowbrook home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Meadowbrook AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Meadowbrook Interior Design Program
Selecting the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meadowbrook Alabama.