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How to Find the Right Interior Designer School near Fultondale Alabama

Fultondale Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Fultondale AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Fultondale AL can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking 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 Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Fultondale AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed 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 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Fultondale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a respected 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Fultondale AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Fultondale AL school you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Fultondale AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Fultondale AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller 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 colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Fultondale home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fultondale AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Fultondale Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fultondale Alabama.