Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Find the Right One Near Alabaster Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Alabaster AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since interior designers must be licensed in a number of states, the college you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam and provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's vital you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But just how do you approach finding the right school? When checking out interior design schools, many potential students begin by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. However, a school is not always the right option simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training options are offered.
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Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Alabaster AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some 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. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects 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 two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five 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 some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Alabaster AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly 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 able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alabaster AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides providing an excellent education, the Alabaster AL program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Alabaster AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Alabaster AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Alabaster AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alabaster home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Alabaster Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. 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 effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alabaster Alabama.