Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Enroll in the Right One Near Mobile Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task of picking an interior design school near Mobile AL once you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So in order to evaluate and compare each school you are considering prior to making your final choice it's vital that you perform the appropriate due diligence. But just how do you approach finding the right program? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. There are several other factors that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Mobile AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Mobile AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only 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 costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Mobile AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Mobile AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Mobile AL school you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Mobile AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Mobile AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Mobile AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Mobile home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Mobile Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. 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 properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Mobile Alabama.