How to Find the Best Interior Design School near Saraland Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Saraland 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 spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics 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 class alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Saraland AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Saraland AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Saraland AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick 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 accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Saraland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Saraland AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Saraland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Saraland AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Saraland AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Saraland AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Saraland AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Saraland home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Saraland AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Right Saraland Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saraland Alabama.