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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program near Pleasant Grove Alabama

Pleasant Grove Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Pleasant Grove AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary 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 spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Pleasant Grove AL can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Pleasant Grove AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Pleasant Grove AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive 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 job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of 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 university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Pleasant Grove AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Pleasant Grove AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Pleasant Grove AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 as well as 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. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Pleasant Grove AL program you select should also furnish the suitable 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 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 programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college 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 assistance offices for the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pleasant Grove AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Pleasant Grove home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to 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, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Pleasant Grove Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pleasant Grove Alabama.