Interior Designer College
How to Find the Right One Near Florence Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task of picking an interior design school near Florence AL once you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. 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 a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So in order to evaluate and compare each program you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice it's vital that you do the proper due diligence. But where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. But keep in mind, a school is not always the right option simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are a number of other considerations that you should weigh when comparing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new career in Florence AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions 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 components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Florence AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Florence AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. 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 an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Florence AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Florence AL college you choose should also furnish the appropriate 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 received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Florence AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Florence AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Florence AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Florence home, go to the school and sit in on 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Florence Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Florence Alabama.