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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Pelham Alabama

Pelham Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college 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 important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But where do you start? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference 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. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Pelham AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to 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 concepts, Pelham AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Pelham AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college 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 require 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 take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Pelham AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Pelham AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. 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 school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Pelham AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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 requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Pelham AL school you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Pelham AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Pelham AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Pelham AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Pelham home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant 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, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify 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 Pelham Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Pelham Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pelham Alabama.