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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program near Pelham Alabama

Pelham Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Pelham AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Pelham AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Pelham AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Pelham AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide 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) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Pelham AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Pelham AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Pelham AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Pelham AL school you choose should also provide the suitable instruction 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Pelham AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Pelham AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Pelham AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pelham home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to 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 attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Pelham Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. 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 ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pelham Alabama.