How to Pick the Right Interior Designer School near Russellville Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Russellville AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Russellville 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 a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need 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 concepts, Russellville AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Russellville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally 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 some instances, two 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 convenience of their Russellville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Russellville AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few 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 compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Russellville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Ready 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Russellville AL college you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Russellville AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Russellville AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts 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 may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Russellville AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Russellville home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Russellville Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Russellville Alabama.