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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer School near Gardendale Alabama

Gardendale Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Gardendale AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Gardendale AL can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Gardendale AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Gardendale AL. Your decision 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 decide to enroll in, make certain to pick 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. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment 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 creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional 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 Gardendale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Gardendale AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Gardendale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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 calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Gardendale AL school you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Gardendale AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Gardendale AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Gardendale AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Gardendale home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Gardendale AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Gardendale Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Gardendale Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gardendale Alabama.