How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Pelham Alabama
Now that you have decided 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 essential that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate 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 essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Pelham AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Pelham AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new career in Pelham AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose 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 accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Pelham AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. 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 ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Pelham AL residence. Obviously 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 fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for 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 programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Pelham AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask 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 field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Pelham AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Pelham AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Pelham AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Pelham home, go to the college 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Pelham Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pelham Alabama.