How to Find the Right Interior Design Program near Troy Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Troy AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 choices are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference 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 talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Troy AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Troy AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Troy AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven 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 opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Troy AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Troy AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Troy AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get 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, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Troy AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination 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 received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Troy AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Troy AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Troy AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Troy home, go to the college and sit in on 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 philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Troy AL, verify 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, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Troy Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Troy Alabama.