Interior Designer Degree
How to Choose the Right One Near Saraland Alabama
So it’s time to start the process of choosing an interior design school near Saraland AL once you have made a career decision 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 receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And because interior designers must be licensed in several states, the college you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam and provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's very important you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just how do you go about finding the right school? When looking for interior design schools, many potential students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about the degree and class options are offered.
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Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Saraland AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time 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 mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs 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 typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Saraland AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Saraland AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school 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 an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Saraland AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Saraland AL school you enroll in should also furnish 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Saraland AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Saraland AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school 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 offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Saraland AL colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Saraland home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure 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 going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Saraland AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Saraland Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Saraland Alabama.