Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Choose the Right One Near Pell City Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Pell City AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. It's important that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since interior designers must be licensed in a number of states, the college you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's crucial you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But just how do you approach finding the right program? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address 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 options are available.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Pell City AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Pell City AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new career in Pell City AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components 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 position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use 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.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Pell City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Pell City AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Pell City AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Pell City AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Pell City AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Pell City AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pell City AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Pell City home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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, verify that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Pell City AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Pell City Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pell City Alabama.