How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Monroeville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Monroeville AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Monroeville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically 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 bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Monroeville AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Monroeville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated 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. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty 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 mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Monroeville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to 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 programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Monroeville AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Monroeville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Monroeville AL program you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at 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 college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Monroeville AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Monroeville AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Monroeville AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Monroeville home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Monroeville AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Monroeville Interior Design Program
Selecting the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Monroeville Alabama.