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How to Choose the Right Interior Design School near Jacksonville Alabama

Jacksonville Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Jacksonville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous 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 attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Jacksonville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They 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 implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Jacksonville AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed 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 education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for 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 cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Jacksonville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Jacksonville AL home. Obviously 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 cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Jacksonville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Jacksonville AL college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements 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 designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Jacksonville AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Jacksonville AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Jacksonville AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Jacksonville home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program 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 at night or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Jacksonville Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Jacksonville Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But 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 properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jacksonville Alabama.