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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Jasper Alabama

Jasper Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Jasper 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 spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Jasper AL may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must 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 create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Jasper AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Jasper AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional 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 professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Jasper AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting 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 as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Jasper AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Jasper AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Jasper AL school you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Jasper AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Jasper AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? 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 Jasper AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Jasper home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you select 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 go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Jasper AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Jasper Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jasper Alabama.