How to Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Roanoke Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Roanoke AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon 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 appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important 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 class alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Roanoke AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, 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 appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Roanoke AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Roanoke AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven 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 choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions 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 components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide 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 the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Roanoke AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Roanoke AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Roanoke AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Roanoke AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Roanoke AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Roanoke AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Roanoke AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Roanoke home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Roanoke AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Roanoke Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer program 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 develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Roanoke Alabama.