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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Jackson Alabama

Jackson Alabama luxury interior designed spacious bathroomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Jackson AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask 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 Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Jackson AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Jackson AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession in Jackson AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary 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 require 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 exam.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Jackson AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Jackson AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Jackson AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Jackson AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Jackson AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Jackson AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Jackson AL schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Jackson home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Jackson AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Jackson Interior Design Programs

Pick the Right Jackson Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jackson AL.