How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Meridianville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Meridianville 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 spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Meridianville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Meridianville AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Meridianville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business 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 two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Meridianville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of 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 cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select 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 discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Meridianville AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Meridianville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Meridianville AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Meridianville AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Meridianville AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Meridianville AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Meridianville home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. 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 option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Meridianville Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meridianville Alabama.