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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Forestdale Alabama

Forestdale Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce 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 gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some future students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Forestdale 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, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Forestdale AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Forestdale AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take 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 colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical 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 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 make certain that the school 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 obtain 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Forestdale AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Forestdale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Forestdale AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Forestdale AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Forestdale AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Forestdale AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Forestdale home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Forestdale AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Forestdale Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Best Forestdale Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Forestdale Alabama.