Interior Designer School
How to Pick the Best One Near Helena Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task of picking an interior design school near Helena AL once you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. It's important that you get the best available training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So in order to assess and compare each college you are looking at prior to making your final selection it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. There are a number of other factors that you should weigh when comparing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training options are available.
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Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new career in Helena AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter 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) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Courses
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Helena AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Helena AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Helena AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Helena AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out 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 graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Helena AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Helena AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Helena AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Helena home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Helena AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Helena Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Helena Alabama.