Interior Designer College
How to Select the Best One Near Jacksonville Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of picking an interior design school near Jacksonville AL now that you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since interior designers must be licensed in a number of states, the school you select should prep you to pass any required licensing test and provide the proper training for your specialty. So it's essential you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? When checking out interior design schools, many potential students begin by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. There are various other qualifications that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Jacksonville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Jacksonville AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Jacksonville AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to 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 certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Jacksonville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Jacksonville AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Jacksonville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Jacksonville AL program you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Jacksonville AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Jacksonville AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Jacksonville AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Jacksonville home, go to the campus and monitor 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 styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important 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, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose the Right Jacksonville Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess 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 reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jacksonville Alabama.