How to Find an Interior Design Degree Program near Athens Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Athens AL, it’s time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it’s essential that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it’s crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let’s cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor’s or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Athens AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Athens AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Athens AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Athens AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Athens AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It’s important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Athens AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Athens AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Athens AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Athens AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Athens AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Athens home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Considering Attending Interior Design School in Athens AL?
Athens is a city in Limestone County, in the State of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 21,897. The city is the county seat of Limestone County and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area.
Founded in 1818 by John Coffee, Robert Beaty, John D. Carroll, and John Read, Athens is one of the oldest incorporated cities in the State of Alabama, having been incorporated one year prior to the state's admittance to the Union in 1819. Limestone County was also created by an act of the Alabama Territorial Legislature in 1818. The town was first called Athenson, but was incorporated as Athens after the ancient city in Greece. The town's first mayor was Samuel Tanner, and the Tanner area, south of Athens, was named on his behalf.
The Athens area was the home of William Wyatt Bibb, the first Governor of Alabama, and its second Governor, his brother Thomas Bibb, who succeeded him in office when he died in a fall from his horse.
Select the Right Interior Design School near Athens AL
Picking the right interior design college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Athens AL.
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