Interior Designer Degree
How to Choose the Best One Near Homewood Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Homewood AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And because interior designers are licensed in several states, the college you select should prep you to pass any required licensing test and provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's very important you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But just how do you approach finding the right school? When looking for interior design programs, many potential students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and class choices are offered.
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Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Homewood AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment 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 aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Homewood AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy 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 many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Homewood AL home. Obviously 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 fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Homewood AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Homewood AL school you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Homewood AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Homewood AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Homewood AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Homewood home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Homewood AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Homewood Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still essential that you complete 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 programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Homewood Alabama.