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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College near Pelham Alabama

Pelham Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Pelham AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the proper 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 could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other vital 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 training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Pelham AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to 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 might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Pelham AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new profession in Pelham AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty 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. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Pelham AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop 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 added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Pelham AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Pelham AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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 some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Pelham AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at 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 highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Pelham AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Pelham AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative 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 assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pelham AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Pelham home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Right Pelham Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pelham Alabama.