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How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Pleasant Grove Alabama

Pleasant Grove Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Pleasant Grove AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital 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 training options are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two 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 spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Pleasant Grove AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For 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 appearance as the main consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Pleasant Grove AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Pleasant Grove AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve 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 usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Pleasant Grove AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending 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 schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Pleasant Grove AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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 demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid 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 schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Pleasant Grove AL school you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help 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 a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Pleasant Grove AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Pleasant Grove AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Pleasant Grove home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of 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 experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Pleasant Grove AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Pleasant Grove Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented 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 superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pleasant Grove Alabama.