How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Course near Forestdale Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Forestdale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Forestdale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area 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 areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Forestdale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Forestdale AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges 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 Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the convenience of their Forestdale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only 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. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Forestdale AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Forestdale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Forestdale AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Forestdale AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Forestdale AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Forestdale AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Forestdale home, go to the college and attend 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 approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Forestdale AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Forestdale Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Forestdale Alabama.