How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program near Midfield Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Midfield AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Midfield AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, 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 frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Midfield AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Midfield AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance 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 normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Midfield AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. 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 sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have chosen the interior designer 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 commuting distance from your Midfield AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Midfield AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Midfield AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Midfield AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Midfield AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Midfield AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Midfield home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Midfield AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Right Midfield Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Midfield Alabama.