How to Select an Interior Designer School near Ashford Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Ashford AL, it’s time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it’s essential that you obtain 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 training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it’s essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let’s talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator in Ashford AL if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers in Ashford AL often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, Ashford AL designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design in Ashford AL that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit 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 take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered near Ashford AL.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Ashford AL area community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of “Interior Designer”, many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs 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 Degree Programs
For anyone wishing’ to study in the convenience of their homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. 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 sole option if no Ashford AL area interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your Ashford AL area school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It’s necessary to confirm that the interior design school and program that you enroll in 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Ashford AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare 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 some of those states mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Ashford AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Ashford AL area business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of Ashford AL area interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Ashford AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the Ashford AL interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Ideal Interior Designer College near Ashford AlabamaChoosing the right interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer.
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