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How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College near Pleasant Grove Alabama

Pleasant Grove Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Pleasant Grove AL, it's time to start 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 receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 choices are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill 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 trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Pleasant Grove AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Pleasant Grove AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Pleasant Grove AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose 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 addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Pleasant Grove AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic 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 many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive 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 environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Pleasant Grove AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Pleasant Grove AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready 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 some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Pleasant Grove AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Pleasant Grove AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Pleasant Grove AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Pleasant Grove home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some 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, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Pleasant Grove AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Right Pleasant Grove Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pleasant Grove Alabama.