Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Enroll in the Right One Near Florence Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Florence AL, it's time to start the process of picking 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 because interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the proper training for your specialty. So it's crucial you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just how do you approach finding the right program? When looking for interior design schools, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. However, a school is not always the right choice just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are various other factors that you should weigh when analyzing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training options are available.
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Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new career in Florence AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Florence AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Florence AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry 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 agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Florence AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Florence AL program you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Florence AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Florence AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Florence AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Florence home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Florence Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.