Interior Designer Program
How to Find the Best One Near Birmingham Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Birmingham AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So in order to assess and compare each college you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research. But just how do you undertake enrolling in the right school? Some potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Birmingham AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination 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 offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive 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 credential 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 training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized 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 their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional 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 called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Birmingham AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Birmingham AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Birmingham AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Birmingham AL program you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Birmingham AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Birmingham AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Birmingham AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Birmingham home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Birmingham Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. It is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Birmingham Alabama.