Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Find the Best One Near Decatur Alabama
So it’s time to start the process of selecting an interior design school near Decatur AL now that you have made a career choice to become an interior designer. It's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just how do you go about finding the right program? When checking out interior design programs, many potential students start by targeting those that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training alternatives are available.
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Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Decatur AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Decatur AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make 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 colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Decatur AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Decatur AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Decatur AL program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Decatur AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Decatur AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Decatur AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Decatur home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Decatur Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. It is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided 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 superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.