Interior Designer Program
How to Choose the Right One Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of picking an interior design school near Tuscaloosa AL now that you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since interior designers are licensed in several states, the school you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So in order to analyze and compare each program you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection it's very important that you do the proper due diligence. But just how do you undertake finding the right school? Some prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best option simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training choices are available.
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Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Tuscaloosa AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose 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 some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Tuscaloosa AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Tuscaloosa AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Tuscaloosa AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Tuscaloosa AL program you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering 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 college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Tuscaloosa AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Tuscaloosa AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Tuscaloosa home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask 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? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic 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 Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Interior Design College
Picking the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. It is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.