Interior Designer Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Birmingham AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And because interior designers are licensed in a number of states, the college you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the proper training for your specialty. So it's vital you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about the degree and class choices are offered.
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Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Birmingham AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such 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 mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Courses
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Birmingham AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Birmingham AL residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. 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 securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Birmingham AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Birmingham AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Birmingham AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Birmingham AL schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Birmingham AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Birmingham home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Birmingham Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.