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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Pleasant Grove Alabama

Pleasant Grove Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Pleasant Grove AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 class choices are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone 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, doing business as an interior designer requires 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 attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Pleasant Grove AL may 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, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Pleasant Grove AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Pleasant Grove AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Pleasant Grove AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Pleasant Grove AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Pleasant Grove AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Pleasant Grove AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Pleasant Grove AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pleasant Grove AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Pleasant Grove home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose offers 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 at night or on weekends near Pleasant Grove AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Right Pleasant Grove Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pleasant Grove Alabama.