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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Course near Muscle Shoals Alabama

Muscle Shoals Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Muscle Shoals 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 essential that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 choices are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Muscle Shoals AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room 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 areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Muscle Shoals AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Muscle Shoals AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select 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 accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects 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 two year programs provide advanced design training 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 improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire 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 professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Muscle Shoals AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Muscle Shoals AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish 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 accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Muscle Shoals AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Muscle Shoals AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Muscle Shoals AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Muscle Shoals AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Muscle Shoals AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Muscle Shoals home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Muscle Shoals Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Muscle Shoals Alabama.