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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Forestdale Alabama

Forestdale Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Forestdale AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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 training alternatives are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Forestdale AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Forestdale AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Forestdale AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed 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 field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Forestdale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Forestdale AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 education are excellent, it might 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 colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Forestdale AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Forestdale AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Forestdale AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Forestdale AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Forestdale home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. 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 enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Forestdale Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. 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 programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Forestdale Alabama.