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How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program near Pell City Alabama

Pell City Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Pell City AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital 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 choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess 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 many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Pell City 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, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including 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 choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Pell City AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Pell City AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose 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) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain 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 creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such 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. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Pell City AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy 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 sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools 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 environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Pell City AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school 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 schools. Also, many Pell City AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Pell City AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing 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 held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Pell City AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Pell City AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal 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 practical from your Pell City home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly 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, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Pell City Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pell City Alabama.