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How to Choose the Right Interior Design College near Pleasant Grove Alabama

Pleasant Grove Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Pleasant Grove 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 spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Pleasant Grove AL may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Pleasant Grove AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Pleasant Grove AL. Your decision 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 opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices 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. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Pleasant Grove AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Pleasant Grove AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Pleasant Grove AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Pleasant Grove AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable 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? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Pleasant Grove AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Pleasant Grove AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance 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 school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Pleasant Grove AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pleasant Grove home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pleasant Grove AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Pleasant Grove Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pleasant Grove Alabama.