Interior Designer Program
How to Choose the Right One Near Helena Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task of selecting an interior design school near Helena AL once you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to assess and compare each college you are looking at before you make your final decision it's very important that you do the appropriate due diligence. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of other considerations that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, for instance reputation and accreditation. We will address those topics 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 talk a little bit about the degree and class alternatives are available.
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Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Helena AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed 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 two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized 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 the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Schools
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Helena AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Helena AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Helena AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Helena AL school you select should also provide the proper instruction 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools 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 a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Helena AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Helena AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Helena AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Helena home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Helena AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Helena Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Helena Alabama.