How to Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Montevallo Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Montevallo AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will address those issues and other crucial 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 class choices are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, 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 taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Montevallo 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, basements and closets. 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 concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Montevallo AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Montevallo AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Montevallo AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving 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 minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. 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 option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Montevallo AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Montevallo AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Montevallo AL college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Montevallo AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Montevallo AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Montevallo AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Montevallo 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 styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Montevallo AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check 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 Montevallo Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Montevallo Alabama.