Interior Designer College
How to Choose the Right One Near Decatur Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Decatur AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. 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 residential or commercial interiors. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But just how do you go about enrolling in the right school? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training options are available.
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Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new profession in Decatur AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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. Below are brief explanations 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 roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Decatur AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Decatur AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Decatur AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Decatur AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. 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 a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Decatur AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Decatur AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Decatur AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Decatur home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Decatur Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. 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 properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Decatur Alabama.