How to Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Saraland Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Saraland AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Saraland AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily 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 stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Saraland AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Saraland AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations 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 about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. 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 wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Saraland AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting 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 decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Saraland AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down 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 things that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Saraland AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Saraland AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination 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? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Saraland AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Saraland AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often 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 Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Saraland AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Saraland home, go to the college and sit in on 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 philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Saraland AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Saraland Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you complete 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 programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saraland Alabama.