How to Select the Right Interior Design School Tuscaloosa 35401
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Tuscaloosa 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 essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it’s crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address 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 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 confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor’s or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Tuscaloosa AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Tuscaloosa AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Tuscaloosa AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly 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 three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Tuscaloosa AL 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 going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It’s essential to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Tuscaloosa AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Tuscaloosa AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Tuscaloosa AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Tuscaloosa AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Tuscaloosa home, visit the school and monitor 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 experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enrolling in an Interior Design School near Tuscaloosa AL?
Perhaps you are considering attending an interior design degree program in the Tuscaloosa Alabama area. If so, you may find the following information about the location of your new school campus interesting and informative.
Tuscaloosa (/tʌskəˈluːsə/ TUS-kə-LOO-sə) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 100,287 in 2017.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chief of a band of Muskogean-speaking people. They battled and were defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, thought to have been located in what is now central Alabama. Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties. In 2013 its estimated metro population was 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city.
Pick the Best Interior Design School near Tuscaloosa AL
Choosing the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. You originally came upon this website because you had an initial interest in Colleges With Good Interior Design Programs. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa AL.
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