Interior Designer Degree
How to Find the Best One Near Jacksonville Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Jacksonville AL, it's time to start the process of picking 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 a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So in order to analyze and compare each school you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision it's essential that you perform the proper research. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. However, a school is not always the best choice simply because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are many other considerations that you should evaluate when reviewing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will cover those issues and other vital 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 offered.
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Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Jacksonville AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to 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 pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects 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 job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Jacksonville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Jacksonville AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Jacksonville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Jacksonville AL program you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Jacksonville AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Jacksonville AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Jacksonville AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Jacksonville home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Jacksonville Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. It is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jacksonville Alabama.