Chosing a School
Points to Consider When Choosing a Floral Career School
Please take a few minutes to read these important tips. Successfully pursuing your goals requires a relationship between you, the student, and the person, or institution who can help you achieve those goals. Making the right decision calls for research into the school’s programs and the people who teach them.
There are many floral design schools in and out of the United States. In researching schools sometimes a perspective student doesn’t know enough to know what to ask. This page is to help guide you in your quest for the floral design school that best suits your needs.
- The floral design school that you are considering should be licensed by a State Commission for Independent Education. These commissions regulate and monitor non-degree schools in order to protect the public and insure that the students are attending a valid school. In past years there have been “back room classes” conducted in flower shops. These situations are not legitimate floral design schools and operate under the auspices of the retail flower shop excluding them from state licensing board regulations. In this situation the student is often paying for and/or offering “free” help to the shop. If the student is within driving distance of the school, I strongly urge them to schedule an on-site visit. Meeting with the instructors and seeing the facility can impact your decision.
- No one floral design school’s Diploma or Certificate is worth more or less than another as long as they are licensed as a non-degree school by the Commission for Independent Education. The school’s license number should appear on all promotional material, web site and enrollment agreement along with the address and telephone number for the Commission for Independent Education. The commission can be contacted regarding any reports or complaints regarding the school.
- Unless the classes in floral design are a component of a two or four year college degree program, they are not accredited; however, the instructors may be Accredited in Floral Design by being Accredited Members of the American Institute of Floral Designers and the designation “AIFD” appears as an addendum to their name. This process is not recommended unless a floral designer has had several years of hands-on experience and attended at least one National Symposium, Diagnostic Evaluation Workshop or an AIFD Across America program. Accredited Members of the Institute must accumulate Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) in order to maintain their accredited status. Additional information on AIFD can be obtained by visiting the web site at: www.aifd.org.
- Instructor(s) may hold a teaching certificate or a degree in horticulture. While this certainly has a value it does not say anything about the teacher’s experience as a floral designer. Trends in business and design change with the wind and unless an instructor stays current, students can be receiving dated information. Question instructors about their experience in the floral design industry. Were they successful shop owners or designers and when? Unless someone has been successful as a retail floral designer it’s very hard to teach others successful methods. Students should form a bond with their instructors and need to feel comfortable contacting them in the future with their concerns.
- Accolades and awards in floral design competitions and business practices are given annually from state and national floral organizations to participants who have a competitive spirit. There is a huge value in learning from a designer who has good communication skills and has proven themselves in the competition arena. What, if any, awards have the instructors received during their career?
- Are the contact people associated with the school easy to reach and respond positively to questions asked by the prospective student? There is no such thing as a “stupid” question. If you are considering a thought then more than likely others are too. Ask as many questions as you like in order to fully comprehend what you need to.
- Floral design schools can purchase memberships into national, state and local floral organizations, wire services and other affiliated organizations simply by paying annual dues. Being an Associate Member of these organizations does not say anything about the schools creditability. Although, many state floral associations conduct a certification process in which a participant takes a written and practical test. If the applicant passes the evaluation with the required number of points they are inducted into the state’s Master Florist Program. This process has a great value but is not recommended for anyone unless they have several years of hands-on experience in the floral industry.
- Does the floral design school you are considering have a curriculum that illustrates what topics are being taught and what is the ratio of lab hours to lecture hours? This is a hands-on industry and to learn is to do. Correspondence courses and videos only give theory and demonstrations so the teaching methods are limited. Remember you cannot ask the video a question and the video cannot tell you when you are doing something wrong.
- The length of the course in many schools can vary from hours to days to weeks. Many schools pack a great deal of information into a short time frame. In today’s busy world we find many people changing careers and not everyone has three or four weeks to be away from their routines to explore a new career. Balance the time with the cost of tuition to find a program that best suits your situation.
- Over past recent years schools offered by celebrity florists have popped up around the nation. These programs offer a design experience only for students to learn how to make arrangements for their own homes. The participants create one to three arrangements per class session and then take the designs home. Individuals looking for information on how to run a floral business would need to take additional courses from a state licensed floral career school.
- Are classes subject to be cancelled if the enrollment number for that class is not met? Some floral design schools may cancel classes which can be a problem for students who have already allocated the time to attend, purchased non-refundable airline tickets or made lodging accommodations. Always ask if the class is subject to cancellation. Is there a faculty or back up staff if the Primary Instructor or Director is unavailable to teach the course.
- What sort of facility is the school located in? Is the area relatively safe and is reasonable lodging near by? If a perspective student is living within driving distance arrange for a school site visit. Observe a class in session to see first hand what the students are learning. While you are there check to see if the school offers a library of books or videos that can be accessed at lunch or on breaks.
- Ask the school for references from former students. This way you can get an honest testimony from someone who has had the experience first-hand. They have nothing to loose by being honest with you!
We hope that these points will help serve you well in your search for a floral design school program that best suits your needs.
While there are many programs available on the web not all are appropriate for you. The best and most sincere advice that we can give to anyone exploring floral design as a career is to receive quality education and work for a year or two before considering purchasing or opening a retail florist.
Please do not hesitate to contact the South Florida Center for Floral Studies office at 561/684-8100 or 1-800/765-8523 or e-mail John@centerforfloralstudies.com
Regarding any other information you may need. Good luck!
John Klingel AAF, AIFD, PFCI
Member of: The American Academy of Floriculture
American Institute of Floral Designers
Professional Floral Communicators- International