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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Course Shoal Creek Alabama

Shoal Creek Alabama luxury interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Shoal Creek AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the right 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 may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Shoal Creek AL can 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, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Shoal Creek AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Shoal Creek AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment 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 components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance 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 typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Schools

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Shoal Creek AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Shoal Creek AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Shoal Creek AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Shoal Creek AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Shoal Creek AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Shoal Creek AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining 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 college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Shoal Creek AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Shoal Creek home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask 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 designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Shoal Creek AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Accredited Shoal Creek Interior Design Colleges

Choose the Ideal Shoal Creek Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you perform 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 appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Shoal Creek AL.