Interior Designer Program
How to Select the Right One Near Oxford Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Oxford AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. It's important that you get the best available training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since interior designers must be licensed in several states, the school you select should prep you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So in order to assess and compare each college you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision it's crucial that you perform the proper research. But just how do you approach finding the right program? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. However, a school is not always the right option just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit about the degree and class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Oxford AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted 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 needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at many 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 provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Oxford AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy 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 option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Oxford AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Oxford AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Oxford AL program you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Oxford AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Oxford AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Oxford AL programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Oxford home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some 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? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Oxford AL, make sure 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, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Oxford Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. It is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oxford Alabama.