Interior Designer Program
How to Select the Right One Near Athens Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Athens AL, it's time to start 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 residential or commercial interiors. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But just how do you undertake enrolling in the right program? When looking for interior design programs, the majority of students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. However, a school is not always the best choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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 Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Athens AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain 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 deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use 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 sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Athens AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Athens AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Athens AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Athens AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Athens AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Athens AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Athens AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Athens home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Athens AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Athens Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding 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 major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Athens Alabama.