Interior Designer Degree
How to Select the Best One Near Florence Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task of choosing an interior design school near Florence AL once you have made a career choice to become an interior designer. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So in order to assess and compare each college you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision it's essential that you perform the appropriate due diligence. But just where do you start? When checking out interior design schools, many potential 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 accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask 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 class choices are offered.
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Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Florence AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets 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 position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Courses
For students who to study in the comfort of their Florence AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes 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 many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. 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 colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Florence AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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 undergone an extensive 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Florence AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Florence AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Florence AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Florence AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Florence AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Florence home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Florence Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented 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 accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.