How to Select the Best Interior Designer College near Saks Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Saks AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Saks AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Saks AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Saks AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Saks AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Saks AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Saks AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Saks AL program you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam 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? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs 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 indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Saks AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Saks AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Saks AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Saks home, go to the campus and sit in on a few 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 credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Saks AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Saks Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saks Alabama.