How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School Shelby Alabama
Now that you have decided 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 imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Shelby AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Shelby AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in Shelby AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose 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 required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives 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. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Shelby AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic 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 colleges may be the only 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Shelby AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Shelby AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Shelby AL college you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Shelby AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Shelby AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Shelby AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Shelby home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially 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, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Pick the Best Shelby Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training 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 acquire a higher education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Shelby AL.