Interior Designer School
How to Pick the Best One Near Jacksonville Alabama
So it’s time to begin the task of picking an interior design school near Jacksonville AL once you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But just how do you approach finding the right program? When looking for interior design schools, many potential students start by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. There are a number of other factors that you should weigh when comparing schools, such as reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Jacksonville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Jacksonville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Jacksonville AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed 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 furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such 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 primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Jacksonville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure 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 colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. 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 perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Jacksonville AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Jacksonville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Jacksonville AL program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, 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 esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Jacksonville AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Jacksonville AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive 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 larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Jacksonville AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Jacksonville home, visit the college 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 approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend 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.
Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jacksonville Alabama.