How to Pick the Best Interior Design College near Robertsdale Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Robertsdale AL, it's time to begin 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 obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Robertsdale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Robertsdale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Robertsdale AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things 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 mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Robertsdale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Robertsdale AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. 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 obtaining 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 schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Robertsdale AL program you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing 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 trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Robertsdale AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Robertsdale AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Robertsdale AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Robertsdale home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Robertsdale AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Robertsdale Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Robertsdale Alabama.