How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Oxford Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Oxford AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business 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 educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Oxford AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers 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, Oxford AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Oxford AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed 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 amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the convenience of their Oxford AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive 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 confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Oxford AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation 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 organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Oxford AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Oxford AL program you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Oxford AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Oxford AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Oxford AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Oxford home, visit the campus and monitor 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, make sure that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Oxford AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Oxford Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review 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 reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oxford Alabama.