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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Fultondale Alabama

Fultondale Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Fultondale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 training choices are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates 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 educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Fultondale AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Fultondale AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Fultondale AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short 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 field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally 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 colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Fultondale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Fultondale AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school 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, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in 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 assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fultondale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require 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 school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Fultondale AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Fultondale AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Fultondale AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Fultondale AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Fultondale home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fultondale AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Fultondale Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fultondale Alabama.