How to Find an Interior Design College near Loxley Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Loxley AL, it’s time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it’s important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it’s very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some prospective 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 variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 choices are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator in Loxley AL if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many 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 various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers in Loxley AL typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, Loxley AL designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of 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 looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design in Loxley AL that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed 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 near Loxley AL.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Loxley AL area vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical 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 supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Classes
For anyone wishing’ to attend classes in the convenience of their homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no Loxley AL area interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your Loxley AL area college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It’s necessary to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Loxley AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of states do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those states mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Loxley AL program you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support 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 high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Loxley AL area business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of Loxley AL area interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Loxley AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the Loxley AL interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant 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 available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Loxley AlabamaChoosing the right interior design college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer.
Some Additional Cities of Interest in Alabama