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How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program near Muscle Shoals Alabama

Muscle Shoals Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Muscle Shoals AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will discuss those topics 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 class alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Muscle Shoals AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Muscle Shoals AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Muscle Shoals AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Muscle Shoals AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic 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 a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Muscle Shoals AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available 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 School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Muscle Shoals AL college you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Muscle Shoals AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Muscle Shoals AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer 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 little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from 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 campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Muscle Shoals Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Right Muscle Shoals Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Muscle Shoals Alabama.