How to Pick an Interior Design Program near Sylacauga Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Sylacauga AL, it’s time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it’s imperative that you obtain 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 as well. So it’s crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital 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 class options are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator in Sylacauga AL if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor’s or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers in Sylacauga AL typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, Sylacauga AL designers frequently focus predominantly 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 may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design in Sylacauga AL that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered near Sylacauga AL.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Sylacauga AL area vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Classes
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no Sylacauga AL area interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your Sylacauga AL area school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your home. Of course 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 narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It’s imperative to verify that the interior design school and program that you select 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 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Sylacauga AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those states requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Sylacauga AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Sylacauga AL area business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the schools you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. Many of Sylacauga AL area interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Sylacauga AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the Sylacauga AL interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will 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 working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Interior Design College near Sylacauga AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential 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 review and compare programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer.
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