How to Select the Best Interior Designer College near Robertsdale Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Robertsdale AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 vs Interior Design
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Robertsdale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Robertsdale AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Robertsdale AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have 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 required 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. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions 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 creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Robertsdale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Robertsdale AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Robertsdale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Robertsdale AL program you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Robertsdale AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Robertsdale AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program 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 aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Robertsdale AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Robertsdale home, go to the school and attend a couple of 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 experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Robertsdale AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Robertsdale Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Robertsdale Alabama.