How to Select an Interior Designer College near Mobile Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Mobile AL, it’s time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it’s important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it’s essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final selection. But just where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Mobile AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily 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 stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to 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 selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Mobile AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Mobile AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter 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 required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed 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 achieving a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of “Interior Designer”, many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Mobile AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Mobile AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It’s necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive 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 agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Mobile AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Mobile AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing 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 help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Mobile AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Mobile AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller 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 Mobile AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Mobile home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Considering Attending Interior Design School in Mobile AL?
Mobile (/moʊˈbiːl/ moh-BEEL; French pronunciation: [mɔ.bil]) is the county seat of Mobile County, Alabama, United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 as of the 2010 United States Census, making it the third most populous city in Alabama, the most populous in Mobile County, and the largest municipality on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida.
Alabama's only saltwater port, Mobile is located on the Mobile River at the head of the Mobile Bay and the north-central Gulf Coast. The Port of Mobile has always played a key role in the economic health of the city, beginning with the settlement as an important trading center between the French colonists and Native Americans, down to its current role as the 12th-largest port in the United States.
Mobile is the principal municipality of the Mobile metropolitan area. This region of 412,992 residents is composed solely of Mobile County; it is the third-largest metropolitan statistical area in the state. Mobile is the largest city in the Mobile-Daphne−Fairhope CSA, with a total population of 604,726, the second largest in the state. As of 2011[update], the population within a 60-mile (100 km) radius of Mobile is 1,262,907.
Select the Best Interior Design School near Mobile AL
Selecting the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mobile AL.
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