Interior Designer College
How to Select the Best One Near Madison Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Madison AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. It's important that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So in order to assess and compare each program you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection it's vital that you do the appropriate research. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are many other factors that you should evaluate when reviewing schools, for example accreditation and reputation. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training alternatives are available.
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Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Madison AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous 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 extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional 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 professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Madison AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Madison AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Madison AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Madison AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements 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 assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Madison AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Madison AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Madison AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Madison home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Madison Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Madison Alabama.