How to Find the Right Interior Design College near Pinson Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Pinson AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 class options are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of 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 areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Pinson AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Pinson AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Pinson AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly 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 technical and creative components of the trade needed 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Pinson AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Pinson AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Pinson AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Pinson AL program you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Pinson AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Pinson AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Pinson AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Pinson home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pinson AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Pinson Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. 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 appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pinson Alabama.