Interior Designer Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Birmingham Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Birmingham AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. It's imperative that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since some 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 assess and compare each program you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision it's vital that you perform the proper research. But exactly where do you start? When looking for interior design programs, the majority of students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Birmingham AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- 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 offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required 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 supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options 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 the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Classes
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Birmingham AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges 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 environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Birmingham AL residence. Of course 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 limit your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Birmingham AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Birmingham AL college you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign 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 substantial network of Birmingham AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Birmingham AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. 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 ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Birmingham AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Birmingham home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Birmingham Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.