Interior Designer Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Muscle Shoals Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of picking an interior design school near Muscle Shoals AL once you have made a career decision to study to be an interior designer. It's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to analyze and compare each college you are looking at prior to making your final selection it's crucial that you perform the proper research. But where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, 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 and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Muscle Shoals AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Muscle Shoals AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Muscle Shoals AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty 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 degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
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 professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Muscle Shoals AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Muscle Shoals AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Muscle Shoals AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Muscle Shoals AL college you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing 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 school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Muscle Shoals AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Muscle Shoals AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Muscle Shoals AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Muscle Shoals home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Muscle Shoals Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points 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 regarded in the business. It is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Muscle Shoals Alabama.