How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Course near Roanoke Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Roanoke AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work 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 necessitates a formal education and in many 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 spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Roanoke AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. 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 bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate 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 lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Roanoke AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Roanoke AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such 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 want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Roanoke AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying 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 laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program 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 earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Roanoke AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Roanoke AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Roanoke AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance 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 a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Roanoke AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Roanoke AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Roanoke AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Roanoke home, visit the campus and attend a couple of 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Roanoke AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Right Roanoke Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer school is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review 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 achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Roanoke Alabama.