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How to Pick the Best Interior Design College near Pell City Alabama

Pell City Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Pell City 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 spaces, it's essential that you obtain 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 training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Many future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 training options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Pell City AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Pell City AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Pell City AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam 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 available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order 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 field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Pell City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Pell City AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by 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 an extensive evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Pell City AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Pell City AL program you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Pell City AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Pell City AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts 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 large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pell City AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Pell City home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Pell City AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Pell City Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Pell City Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pell City Alabama.