How to Pick an Interior Design College near Opelika Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Opelika AL, it’s time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it’s essential that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it’s essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial 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 offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Opelika AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Opelika AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Opelika AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly 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 three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Opelika AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great alternative 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 laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs 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 conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Opelika AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It’s important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Opelika AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Opelika AL school you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Opelika AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Opelika AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Opelika AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Opelika home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Considering Attending Interior Design School in Opelika AL?
Opelika (pronounced /ˌoʊpəˈlaɪkə/ OH-pə-LY-kə) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933 which, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area and Macon County, Alabama, comprises the greater Greater Columbus, Georgia, a region home to 501,649 residents.
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp".
In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.
Select the Right Interior Design School near Opelika AL
Choosing the right interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Opelika AL.
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