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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program near Jacksonville Alabama

Jacksonville Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Jacksonville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Jacksonville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to 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 concepts, Jacksonville AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new career in Jacksonville AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following 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 profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects 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 provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Jacksonville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative 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 commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Jacksonville AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. 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 undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Jacksonville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Jacksonville AL college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Jacksonville AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Jacksonville AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Jacksonville AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Jacksonville home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jacksonville Alabama.