How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Program near Athens Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Athens AL, it’s time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it’s imperative that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it’s vital that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let’s cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor’s or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Athens AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas 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 several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Athens AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Athens AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced 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 decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of “Interior Designer”, many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Athens AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Athens AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It’s important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. 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 establish 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 offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Athens AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Athens AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Athens AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Athens AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Athens AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Athens home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Athens AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Become An Interior Designer Online Athens AL
Choosing the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. You originally came upon this website because you had an interest in Become An Interior Designer Online and wanted more info on the topic Study Interior Design. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Athens AL.
Other Alabama Designer Locations
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.
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