Interior Designer School
How to Choose the Best One Near Jacksonville Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Jacksonville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. It's imperative that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But just how do you go about finding the right program? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are various other qualifications that you should weigh when analyzing schools, for instance accreditation and reputation. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Jacksonville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Jacksonville AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Jacksonville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose 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) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the 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 improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally 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 field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Schools
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Jacksonville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges 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. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Jacksonville AL residence. Naturally 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 limit your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program 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 may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Jacksonville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Jacksonville AL college you select should also furnish the suitable training 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Jacksonville AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Jacksonville AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Jacksonville AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Jacksonville home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, verify 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 process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Find Out More About Becoming an Interior Designer in Jacksonville
Choose the Best Jacksonville Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jacksonville Alabama.
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