Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Foley Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Foley AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? When checking out interior design schools, the majority of students begin by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about the degree and training options are offered.
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Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Foley AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to 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) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential 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 design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Foley AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Foley AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few 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 pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Foley AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Foley AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Foley AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Foley AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Foley AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Foley home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Foley AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Foley Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Foley Alabama.