How to Find the Right Interior Design School near Valley Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Valley AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the proper 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 carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 Design and Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business 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 trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Valley AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Valley AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Valley AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential 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 design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Valley AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Valley AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by 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 undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school 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 schools. Also, many Valley AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Valley AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication 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 Valley AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Valley AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Valley AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Valley home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Valley AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Valley Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer school is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest 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 quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Valley Alabama.