Interior Designer School
How to Pick the Best One Near Alabaster Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Alabaster AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of 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 in order to evaluate and compare each college you are considering before you make your ultimate choice it's very important that you perform the appropriate research. But exactly where do you begin? When checking out interior design schools, many potential students begin by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are a number of other factors that you should weigh when comparing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training choices are available.
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Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new profession in Alabaster AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Courses
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Alabaster AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy 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 many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you enroll in 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 obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Alabaster AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alabaster AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Alabaster AL school you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Alabaster AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Alabaster AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Alabaster AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Alabaster home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Alabaster Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. It is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.