How to Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Pell City Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Pell City AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 choices are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Pell City AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Pell City AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Pell City AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly 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 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Pell City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes 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 accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire 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 program may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Pell City AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in 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 as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Pell City AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Pell City AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Pell City AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Pell City AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pell City AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Pell City home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pell City AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Right Pell City Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest 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 appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pell City Alabama.