Interior Designer College
How to Select the Best One Near Fairhope Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Fairhope AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. It's important that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just how do you undertake enrolling in the right school? Many future students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. However, a school is not always the right option just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are many other qualifications that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for example accreditation and reputation. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit about the degree and training choices are offered.
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Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new profession in Fairhope AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
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 several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For students who to study in the comfort of their Fairhope AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Fairhope AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. 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 factors that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry 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 make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fairhope AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Fairhope AL program you choose 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs 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 held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Fairhope AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Fairhope AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Fairhope AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Fairhope home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask 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 design school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairhope AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Fairhope Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairhope Alabama.