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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Shelby Alabama

Shelby Alabama beautiful interior designed spacious bathroomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Shelby AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables 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 address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general 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 Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Shelby AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Shelby AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Shelby AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with 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 obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized 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. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Colleges

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Shelby AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution 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 practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Shelby AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Shelby AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Shelby AL school you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at 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 held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Shelby AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Shelby AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Shelby AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Shelby home, visit the school and monitor a couple of 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Shelby AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Top Shelby Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Shelby Interior Design School

Picking the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Shelby AL.