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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Program Shelby Alabama

Shelby Alabama beautiful interior designed bathroomNow that 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 residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Shelby AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers 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 incorporating Feng shui concepts, Shelby AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new career in Shelby AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take 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 short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior 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 extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

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

Interior Design Online Colleges

For students who to study in the comfort of their Shelby AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option 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 costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Shelby AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below 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 compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Shelby AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Shelby AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs 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 sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Shelby AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Shelby AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college 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 Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Shelby AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Shelby home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Shelby AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Accredited Shelby Interior Design Colleges

Find the Right Shelby Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Shelby AL.