Interior Designer Course
How to Select the Best One Near Athens Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Athens AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to evaluate and compare each program you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research. But just how do you approach finding the right school? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. 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 various other qualifications that you should weigh when reviewing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about the degree and training choices are available.
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Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Athens AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure 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 addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically 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 professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Athens AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative 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 some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Athens AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Athens AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Athens AL program 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 working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high 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 college has a significant network of Athens AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Athens AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Athens AL schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Athens home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active 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 offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Athens Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things 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 essential 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 properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Athens Alabama.