How to Find the Best Interior Designer College near Pike Road Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Pike Road AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will start 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 sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and 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 general categories that an interior designer in Pike Road AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Pike Road AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Pike Road AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select 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 covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure 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 provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and use 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 professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Pike Road AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative 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 expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Pike Road AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. 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 applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Pike Road AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Pike Road AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Pike Road AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Pike Road AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pike Road AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Pike Road home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pike Road AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Pike Road Interior Design School
Picking the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential 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 effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pike Road Alabama.