Interior Designer Degree
How to Find the Best One Near Alexander City Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Alexander City AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. It's important that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. There are several other factors that you should weigh when reviewing schools, such as reputation and accreditation. We will discuss 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 talk a little bit about the degree and class choices are available.
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Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new profession in Alexander City AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Alexander City AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending 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 colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Alexander City AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Alexander City AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Alexander City AL program 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Alexander City AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Alexander City AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Alexander City AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Alexander City home, go to the school and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Alexander City AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Alexander City Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still important that you complete 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 schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alexander City Alabama.