Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Muscle Shoals AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just how do you go about finding the right school? When looking for interior design programs, many potential students start by zeroing in on those that are closest 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 reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. 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 first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Muscle Shoals AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Muscle Shoals AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Muscle Shoals AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Muscle Shoals AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Muscle Shoals AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Muscle Shoals AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Muscle Shoals AL program you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, 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 field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Muscle Shoals AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Muscle Shoals AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Muscle Shoals AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Muscle Shoals home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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, confirm that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Learn More About How to Become an Interior Designer in Muscle Shoals
Choose the Best Muscle Shoals Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance 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 appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Muscle Shoals Alabama.
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