How to Find an Interior Design Degree Program near Helena Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Helena AL, it’s time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it’s essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it’s vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let’s cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator in Helena AL if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, 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 and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers in Helena 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, Helena AL designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design in Helena AL that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered near Helena AL.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Helena AL area vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For anyone wishing’ to attend classes in the convenience of their homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good solution 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 programs may be the sole option if no Helena AL area interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your Helena AL area school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It’s imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Helena AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of states do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those states mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Helena AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements 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 help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Helena AL area business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of Helena AL area interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Helena AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the Helena AL interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to 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, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Interior Design Certification Training near Helena AlabamaSelecting the right interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. 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 right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer.
Some Additional Cities of Interest in Alabama