How to Pick an Interior Designer Degree Program near Northport Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Northport AL, it’s time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it’s imperative that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it’s essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other important 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 class choices are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates 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 trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Northport AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Northport AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Northport AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose 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 several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with 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 furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Northport AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. 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 option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Northport AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It’s necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Northport AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Northport AL college you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College’s Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Northport AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Northport AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Northport AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Northport home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask 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 sure that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Northport AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Considering Attending Interior Design School in Northport AL?
Northport is a city in Tuscaloosa County in the west central part of the State of Alabama. Located on the Black Warrior River across from downtown Tuscaloosa, it is currently the 21st largest city in Alabama with an estimated population of 24,497 in 2013. It incorporated in 1871. It is part of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area.
As Northport is adjacent to the larger city of Tuscaloosa, many residents work in Tuscaloosa or other parts of Tuscaloosa County. Although the two cities share a land boundary, much of their boundary (and historically all of the boundary) is the Black Warrior River.
As of the census of 2000, there were 19,435 people, 7,844 households, and 5,255 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,328.3 people per square mile (512.9/km²). There were 8,509 housing units at an average density of 581.6 per square mile (224.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.11% White, 26.03% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 1.02% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. 1.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Enroll in the Ideal Interior Design School near Northport AL
Selecting the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to recieve a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Northport AL.
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