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How to Select the Best Interior Designer School near Fultondale Alabama

Fultondale Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Fultondale AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some 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 important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Fultondale AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily 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 hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Fultondale AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure 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 several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations 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 roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Fultondale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Fultondale AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded 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 assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fultondale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Fultondale AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate training 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Fultondale AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Fultondale AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing 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 college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Fultondale AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fultondale home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify 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 school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fultondale AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Fultondale Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Fultondale Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fultondale Alabama.