How to Select an Interior Designer School near Huntsville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Huntsville AL, it’s time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it’s imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it’s crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let’s talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator in Huntsville AL if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers in Huntsville AL often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, Huntsville AL designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design in Huntsville AL that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed 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. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available near Huntsville AL.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Huntsville AL area trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university 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 some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no Huntsville AL area interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your Huntsville AL area college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house 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 college. Below are a list of 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 ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It’s important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Huntsville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those states calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Huntsville AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the state where you will be employed.
What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Huntsville AL area business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of Huntsville AL area interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Huntsville AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the Huntsville AL interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Ideal Interior Designer Certification Training near Huntsville AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer.
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