Interior Designer Degree
How to Pick the Right One Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. It's important that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But where do you start? When checking out interior design schools, the majority of students begin by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training alternatives are available.
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Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Tuscaloosa AL. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Tuscaloosa AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option 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 be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Tuscaloosa AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 gone through a rigorous 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Tuscaloosa AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Tuscaloosa AL college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out 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 profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Tuscaloosa AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Tuscaloosa AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Tuscaloosa AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Tuscaloosa home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided 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 quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tuscaloosa Alabama.