Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Pick the Best One Near Jacksonville Alabama
So it’s time to start the task of selecting an interior design school near Jacksonville AL now that you have made a career choice to become an interior designer. 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 several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So in order to evaluate and compare each school you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection it's very important that you perform the proper research. But just how do you go about finding the right school? When checking out interior design programs, the majority of students start by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best option just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are many other qualifications that you should weigh when reviewing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit about the degree and class alternatives are available.
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Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Jacksonville AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as 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 certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Courses
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Jacksonville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Jacksonville AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding 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 organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Jacksonville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to 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. So besides providing an excellent education, the Jacksonville AL school you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet 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 earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Jacksonville AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Jacksonville AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Jacksonville AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Jacksonville home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Jacksonville Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jacksonville Alabama.