How to Pick the Best Interior Design School near Scottsboro Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Scottsboro AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Scottsboro AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers 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 incorporating Feng shui principles, Scottsboro AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new profession in Scottsboro AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with 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 obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Scottsboro AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Scottsboro AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized 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 requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Scottsboro AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Scottsboro AL college you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Scottsboro AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Scottsboro AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program 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 Large 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. Find out from the Scottsboro AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Scottsboro home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with some 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Scottsboro AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Scottsboro Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Scottsboro Alabama.