Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Find the Best One Near Gardendale Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task of choosing an interior design school near Gardendale AL now that you have made a career choice to become an interior designer. It's important that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But just how do you approach finding the right school? When looking for interior design programs, many potential students start by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. There are several other factors that you should weigh when comparing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. We will cover those topics 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 available.
IT TAKES JUST A FEW MINUTES TO START YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN CAREER BELOW!
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Gardendale AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate 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 normally completed in three to five years.
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, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Gardendale AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges 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 confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Gardendale AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary 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 field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Gardendale AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Gardendale AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Gardendale AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Gardendale AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Gardendale AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Gardendale home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gardendale AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend 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.
Choose the Best Gardendale Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gardendale Alabama.