Interior Designer College
How to Choose the Right One Near Opelika Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Opelika AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school 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 carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But just how do you approach finding the right program? When checking out interior design schools, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. There are several other considerations that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about the degree and training choices are offered.
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Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Opelika AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required 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 two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Opelika AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Opelika AL home. 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 qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Opelika AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Opelika AL program you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing 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 designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask 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 field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Opelika AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Opelika AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Opelika AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Opelika home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Learn More About Studying to Become an Interior Designer in Opelika
Choose the Right Opelika Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Opelika Alabama.
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