How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Meridianville Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Meridianville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 offered.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Meridianville 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, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including 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 choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Meridianville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Meridianville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt 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 those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Meridianville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient 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 cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Meridianville AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Meridianville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Meridianville AL school you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received 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 assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Meridianville AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Meridianville AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Meridianville AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Meridianville home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Meridianville AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Meridianville Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meridianville Alabama.