Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Northport Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task of picking an interior design school near Northport AL once you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just how do you approach enrolling in the right school? When looking for interior design schools, many potential students start by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. 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 several other qualifications that you should weigh when reviewing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and class options are offered.
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Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Northport AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced 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 certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional 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 field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Northport AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you select 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 education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Northport AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Northport AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Northport AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Northport AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Northport AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Northport AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Northport home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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, make sure that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Northport AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Northport Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. It is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Northport Alabama.