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How to Pick the Best Interior Designer School near Sheffield Alabama

Sheffield Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Sheffield AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? A number of future students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Sheffield AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Sheffield AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Sheffield AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt 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 a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Sheffield AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great solution 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 option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added 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 pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 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 program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Sheffield AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and school that you enroll in 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Sheffield AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Sheffield AL school you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 received your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Sheffield AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Sheffield AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming 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 essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Sheffield AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Sheffield home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Sheffield AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Sheffield Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sheffield Alabama.