Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Pick the Best One Near Pelham Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Pelham AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. It's important that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since interior designers are licensed in several states, the school you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's crucial you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. There are several other factors that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will address those topics and other important 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 options are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Pelham AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Pelham AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Pelham AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Pelham AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 also. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Pelham AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers 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 organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Pelham AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Pelham AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Pelham AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Pelham AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Pelham AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pelham home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, verify 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, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Pelham Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pelham Alabama.