Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Select the Best One Near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Vestavia Hills AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your talents to work. 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 as well. So in order to assess and compare each school you are reviewing prior to making your final choice it's very important that you perform the proper due diligence. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. However, a school is not always the right choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are various other qualifications that you should evaluate when reviewing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about the degree and class choices are available.
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Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Vestavia Hills AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish 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", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Schools
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Vestavia Hills AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Vestavia Hills AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Vestavia Hills AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Vestavia Hills AL college you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools 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 indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Vestavia Hills AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Vestavia Hills AL schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Vestavia Hills home, visit the school and monitor 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 backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Vestavia Hills Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions 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 drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Vestavia Hills Alabama.