Interior Designer College
How to Select the Best One Near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Muscle Shoals AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. It's important that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since interior designers are licensed in several states, the college you select should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So in order to evaluate and compare each school you are considering before you make your ultimate decision it's very important that you do the proper due diligence. But just where do you start? When checking out interior design schools, many potential students start by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the right choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Muscle Shoals AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Muscle Shoals AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Muscle Shoals AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some 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. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Classes
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Muscle Shoals AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized 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 dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Muscle Shoals AL residence. Obviously 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 decrease your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Muscle Shoals AL employers will only employ 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Muscle Shoals AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Muscle Shoals AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Muscle Shoals AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Muscle Shoals AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Muscle Shoals home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Learn More About How to Become an Interior Designer in Muscle Shoals
Enroll in the Best Muscle Shoals Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still important 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 evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Muscle Shoals Alabama.
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