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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Pike Road Alabama

Pike Road Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Pike Road AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will address 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal 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 skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Pike Road AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Pike Road AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Pike Road AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized 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. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Pike Road AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Pike Road AL home. Obviously 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 decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college 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 outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Pike Road AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Pike Road AL college you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Pike Road AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Pike Road AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Pike Road AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Pike Road home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pike Road AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Pike Road Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools 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.