How to Choose an Interior Designer College near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Phenix City AL, it’s time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it’s imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it’s vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator in Phenix City AL if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers in Phenix City 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, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, Phenix City AL designers normally concentrate primarily 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design in Phenix City AL that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick 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 discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available near Phenix City AL.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Phenix City AL area community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of “Interior Designer”, many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Schools
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to 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 programs may be the sole option if no Phenix City AL area interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded 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 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.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your Phenix City AL area school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It’s essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Phenix City AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several states do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those states mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Phenix City AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction 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 received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Phenix City AL area business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of Phenix City AL area interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Phenix City AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the Phenix City AL interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Interior Design College near Phenix City AlabamaChoosing the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer.
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