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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Shelby Alabama

Shelby Alabama beautiful interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Shelby AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills 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 examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics 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 training choices are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Shelby AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Shelby AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new career in Shelby AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Classes

For students who to study in the comfort of their Shelby AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Shelby AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the most affordable college 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 accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Shelby AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate 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, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Shelby AL school you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Shelby AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Shelby AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Shelby AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Shelby home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few 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, confirm that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Shelby AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and 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 Accredited Shelby Interior Design Schools

Find the Ideal Shelby Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school 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 provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Shelby AL.