Interior Designer College
How to Choose the Best One Near Dothan Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Dothan AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since interior designers must be licensed in several 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 in order to assess and compare each program you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection it's crucial that you carry out the proper due diligence. But just how do you approach enrolling in the right school? When checking out interior design schools, the majority of students begin by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. However, a school is not always the right option simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about the degree and training alternatives are offered.
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Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Dothan AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components 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 position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Courses
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Dothan AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy 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 many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Dothan AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Dothan AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Dothan AL college you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Dothan AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Dothan AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Dothan AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Dothan home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Dothan Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Dothan Alabama.