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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Course near Irondale Alabama

Irondale Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Irondale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Irondale AL can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Irondale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Irondale AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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 programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Irondale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn 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 Designer Colleges

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Irondale AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Irondale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Irondale AL college you select should also provide the suitable education 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? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Irondale AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Irondale AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Irondale AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Irondale home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Irondale AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Irondale Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Irondale Alabama.