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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program near Fultondale Alabama

Fultondale Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Fultondale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital 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 alternatives are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Fultondale AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, 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 consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Fultondale AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Fultondale AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain 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 some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such 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 primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Fultondale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of 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 lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Fultondale AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Fultondale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare 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 as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Fultondale AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Fultondale AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Fultondale AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fultondale AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Fultondale home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fultondale AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Fultondale Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Fultondale Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fultondale Alabama.