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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College Shoal Creek Alabama

Shoal Creek Alabama elegant interior designed custom bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Shoal Creek 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 obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? Some future students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Shoal Creek AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Shoal Creek AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Shoal Creek AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Classes

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Shoal Creek AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical 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. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Shoal Creek AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. 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 examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Shoal Creek AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Shoal Creek AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Shoal Creek AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Shoal Creek AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Shoal Creek AL programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Shoal Creek home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Shoal Creek AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Top Shoal Creek Interior Design Courses

Find the Best Shoal Creek Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Shoal Creek AL.