How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School near Forestdale Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Forestdale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Forestdale AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Forestdale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Forestdale AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many 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 programs vary in length but are usually 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 several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Forestdale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added 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 be sure that the school you select 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 education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Forestdale AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down 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 variables that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Forestdale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate 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 calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Forestdale AL program you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Forestdale AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Forestdale AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Forestdale AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Forestdale home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Forestdale AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Best Forestdale Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Forestdale Alabama.