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How to Select the Best Interior Design Course near Pinson Alabama

Pinson Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Pinson AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate 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 preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Pinson AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly 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 concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Pinson AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Pinson AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make 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 some 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 provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many 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 deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Pinson AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving 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 reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Pinson AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation 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 as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and school that you enroll in 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Pinson AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Pinson AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Pinson AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Pinson AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pinson AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pinson home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pinson AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Pinson Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive 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 regarded in the business. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pinson Alabama.