How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Course near Theodore Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Theodore AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. 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 trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Theodore 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, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Theodore AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Theodore AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit 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) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate 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 achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually 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 some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Theodore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying 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 attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Theodore AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Theodore AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Theodore AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction 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 School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Theodore AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Theodore AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Theodore AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Theodore home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Theodore AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Theodore Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Theodore Alabama.