How to Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Oneonta Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Oneonta AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business 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 areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Oneonta AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate 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 banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must 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 principles, Oneonta AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Oneonta AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Oneonta AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Oneonta AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional 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 demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Oneonta AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs 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 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 professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Oneonta AL program you enroll in should also provide 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Oneonta AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Oneonta AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Oneonta AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Oneonta home, visit the school 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 credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Oneonta AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Right Oneonta Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider 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 profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oneonta Alabama.