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How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program Shelby Alabama

Shelby Alabama elegant interior designed bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design 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 spaces, it's essential 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 may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Shelby AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Shelby AL interior designers implement a wide range 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 necessary to start your new career in Shelby AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Classes

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Shelby AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Shelby AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Shelby AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Shelby AL school you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Shelby AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Shelby AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Shelby AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Shelby home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Shelby AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you 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 illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Top Shelby Interior Design Courses

Select the Right Shelby Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess 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 accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Shelby AL.