How to Choose the Best Interior Design College near Midfield Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Midfield AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of 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 crucial that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many future students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Midfield AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus primarily 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Midfield AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Midfield AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated 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 amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade 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 supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the comfort of their Midfield AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Midfield AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Midfield AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Midfield AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Midfield AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Midfield AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Midfield AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Midfield home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Midfield AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Midfield Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you complete 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 right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Midfield Alabama.