How to Choose the Right Interior Design School Alabaster 35007
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Alabaster AL, it’s time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it’s important that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it’s very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Alabaster AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to 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 concepts, Alabaster AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Alabaster AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative 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 position as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer alternatives 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 their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 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 called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Alabaster AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed 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 interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Alabaster AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It’s essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Alabaster AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare 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 as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Alabaster AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College’s Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Alabaster AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Alabaster AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive 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 probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alabaster AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alabaster home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enrolling in an Interior Design School near Alabaster AL?
Perhaps you are considering attending an interior design degree program in the Alabaster Alabama area. If so, you may find the following information about the location of your new school campus interesting and informative.
Alabaster is a city and southern suburb of Birmingham in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 30,352. According to the 2013 Census Estimates, the city had a population of 31,342. Alabaster is the 16th largest city in Alabama by number of residents.
Alabaster mostly occupies the Cahaba and Opossum Valleys, which are divided by the Pine Ridge that runs north to south. To the east and west, both valleys are flanked by parallel mountain ridges that locally run north to south, but are a part of a larger system of ridges that generally runs north-east to south-west (the tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills). The valleys are drained by small creeks (Buck Creek, Beaverdam Creek) which flow into the Cahaba River.
George L. Scott, Sr., an Alabaster pioneer, owned and operated Alabaster Lime Co., which mined this mineral. His shipping point was known as “Scott Rock.” Later, worker housing was built to accommodate some of the mine employees. The community was named Alabaster after the "white calcium carbonate mineral."
Select the Ideal Interior Design School near Alabaster AL
Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. You originally came upon this website because you had an initial interest in Interior Design Colleges. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster AL.
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