How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Forestdale Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Forestdale AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Forestdale AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Forestdale AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Forestdale AL. Your decision 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 regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Forestdale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional 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 highly regarded 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 online or distance 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 alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Forestdale AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Forestdale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Forestdale AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program'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 programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Forestdale AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Forestdale AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Forestdale AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Forestdale home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Forestdale AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Forestdale Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Forestdale Alabama.