How to Find the Best Interior Designer Program near Pell City Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Pell City AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone 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 necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Pell City AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Pell City AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Pell City AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate 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 attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Pell City AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option 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 schools may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional 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 pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Pell City AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Pell City AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Pell City AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination 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? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Pell City AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Pell City AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Pell City AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Pell City home, go to the campus 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 experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to 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 enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Pell City Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several things to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pell City Alabama.