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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Pelham Alabama

Pelham Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Pelham AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, 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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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone 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, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Pelham AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Pelham AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such 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 largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Pelham AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. 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 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 colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Pelham AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College 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 respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting 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 colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Pelham AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Pelham AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Pelham AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pelham AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Pelham home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Pelham AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Pelham Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Pelham Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pelham Alabama.