How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Russellville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Russellville 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 essential that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, 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 crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Russellville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally 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 banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Russellville AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Russellville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects 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 position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Russellville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy 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 many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Russellville AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry 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 instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Russellville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Russellville AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. 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 an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Russellville AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Russellville AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Russellville AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Russellville home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Russellville Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Russellville Alabama.