Interior Designer Degree
How to Find the Best One Near Pelham Alabama
So it’s time to start the process of picking an interior design school near Pelham AL now that you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to analyze and compare each school you are looking at before you make your final choice it's very important that you perform the appropriate research. But where do you begin? When looking for interior design schools, many potential students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are several other factors that you should weigh when comparing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Pelham AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example 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 selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Pelham AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Pelham AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges 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 Classes
For students who to study in the convenience of their Pelham AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Pelham AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program 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 education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Pelham AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Pelham AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges 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 college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Pelham AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Pelham AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Pelham AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pelham home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Pelham AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find Out More About Studying to Become an Interior Designer in Pelham
Choose the Best Pelham Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pelham Alabama.
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