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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Irondale Alabama

Irondale Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Irondale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 training alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Irondale AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Irondale AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Irondale AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Irondale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Irondale AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field 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 programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Irondale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Irondale AL college you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Irondale AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Irondale AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Irondale AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Irondale home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Irondale AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Best Irondale Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Irondale Alabama.