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How to Pick the Right Interior Design College near Pelham Alabama

Pelham Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Pelham AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Pelham AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus 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 hospitals and banks 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, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Pelham AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Pelham AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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 some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant 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 online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper 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 program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Pelham AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Pelham AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam 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? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Pelham AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Pelham AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Pelham AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pelham home, visit the school and attend 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 styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. 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, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Pelham Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Pelham Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pelham Alabama.