Interior Designer School
How to Choose the Best One Near Pelham Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Pelham AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So in order to assess and compare each school you are looking at before you make your final decision it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate due diligence. But just where do you begin? Many future students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. However, a school is not always the best choice simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are several other considerations that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training choices are available.
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Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Pelham AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose 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 covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs 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 technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job 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 offer alternatives in specialty 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 degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Pelham AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending 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 only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded 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 dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
When 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, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Pelham AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Pelham AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Pelham AL program you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing 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 design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Pelham AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Pelham AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Pelham AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pelham home, go to the college and sit in on 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 styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pelham AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Pelham Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. It is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pelham Alabama.