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How to Find the Right Interior Designer School near Fultondale Alabama

Fultondale Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Fultondale AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by searching 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 only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them 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 areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Fultondale AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Fultondale AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment 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 components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Fultondale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. 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 attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Fultondale AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college that you select 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fultondale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Fultondale AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, 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 might also signify that the college has a large network of Fultondale AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Fultondale AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Fultondale AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fultondale home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fultondale AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Fultondale Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fultondale Alabama.