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How to Select the Best Interior Designer School near Irondale Alabama

Irondale Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Irondale AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Some future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic 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 a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Irondale AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Irondale AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate 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 offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Irondale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working 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 a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Irondale AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Irondale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Irondale AL college you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Irondale AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Irondale AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Irondale AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Irondale home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Irondale AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Right Irondale Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Irondale Alabama.