How to Select the Best Interior Design School near Wetumpka Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Wetumpka 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 imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous 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 functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Wetumpka AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room 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 public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Wetumpka AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Wetumpka AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required 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 level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Wetumpka AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. 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 alternative if no interior design programs 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 study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Wetumpka AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Wetumpka AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Wetumpka AL college you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Wetumpka AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Wetumpka AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Wetumpka AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Wetumpka home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Wetumpka AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Right Wetumpka Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important 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 assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Wetumpka Alabama.