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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Irondale Alabama

Irondale Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Irondale AL, it's time to begin 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 obtain the proper training to put your skills 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 examination also. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask 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 alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires 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 trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Irondale AL can 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas 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 consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, 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 integrating Feng shui principles, Irondale AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Irondale AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical 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 furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Irondale AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good 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 home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn 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 setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Irondale AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might 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 home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design school and program that you choose 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing 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 colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Irondale AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Irondale AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Irondale AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Irondale AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Irondale home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Irondale AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Irondale Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Irondale Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Irondale Alabama.