Interior Designer College
How to Pick the Best One Near Jacksonville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Jacksonville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. It's imperative that you get the best available training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But just how do you undertake finding the right program? Many potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Jacksonville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Jacksonville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new career in Jacksonville AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose 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. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many 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 deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For students who to study in the comfort of their Jacksonville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools 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 commuting or study materials 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges
After you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Jacksonville AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. 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 previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Jacksonville AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support 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 higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Jacksonville AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Jacksonville AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing 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 offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Jacksonville AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Jacksonville home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Learn More About Becoming an Interior Designer in Jacksonville
Choose the Right Jacksonville Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest 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 ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jacksonville Alabama.
Jacksonville Interior Design Degrees | Jacksonville How To Become An Interior Designer