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How to Select the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Jacksonville Alabama

Jacksonville Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Jacksonville AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important 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 training choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Jacksonville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Jacksonville AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Jacksonville AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have 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 required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions 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 creative and technical components of the trade required 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 supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Jacksonville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Jacksonville AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers 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 training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Jacksonville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Jacksonville AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Jacksonville AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Jacksonville AL schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Jacksonville AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Jacksonville home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to 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 as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Jacksonville Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Jacksonville Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative 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 effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jacksonville Alabama.