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How to Choose the Right Interior Design School near Pike Road Alabama

Pike Road Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Pike Road AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 training choices are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Pike Road AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Pike Road AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Pike Road AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such 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 degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Pike Road AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Pike Road AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Pike Road AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Pike Road AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate 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? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Pike Road AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Pike Road AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pike Road AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pike Road home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Pike Road 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 process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Pike Road Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pike Road Alabama.