Interior Designer Degree
How to Select the Best One Near Northport Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Northport AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? When checking out interior design programs, many potential students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Northport AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief 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 field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for 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 deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Northport AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Northport AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Northport AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Northport AL program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Northport AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Northport AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Northport AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Northport home, go to the campus 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 approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in 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 in the evening or on weekends near Northport AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Northport Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Northport Alabama.