How to Pick the Right Interior Design School near Robertsdale Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Robertsdale AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial 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, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Some future students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone 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, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Robertsdale AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Robertsdale AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Robertsdale AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty 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 degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Robertsdale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded 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 earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Robertsdale AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Robertsdale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Robertsdale AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Robertsdale AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Robertsdale AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Robertsdale AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Robertsdale home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Robertsdale AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Robertsdale Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Robertsdale Alabama.