How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College near Fultondale Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Fultondale AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction 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 spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Fultondale AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Fultondale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Fultondale AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Fultondale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance 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 perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Fultondale AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Fultondale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Fultondale AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Fultondale AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Fultondale AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fultondale AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fultondale home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of 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 backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fultondale AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Fultondale Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fultondale Alabama.