How to Choose the Best Interior Design College near Wetumpka Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Wetumpka AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask 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 class choices are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Wetumpka AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically 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 kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals 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 color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Wetumpka AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new profession in Wetumpka AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive 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 degree needed by a graduating student 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 provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the comfort of their Wetumpka AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Wetumpka AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Wetumpka AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools 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 require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Wetumpka AL program you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Wetumpka AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Wetumpka AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes 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 personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Wetumpka AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Wetumpka home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Wetumpka AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Wetumpka Interior Design Program
Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Wetumpka Alabama.