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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Jackson Alabama

Jackson Alabama beautiful interior designed custom bathroomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Jackson AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial 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 training choices are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Jackson AL may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Jackson AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Jackson AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college 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", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Classes

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Jackson AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Jackson AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Jackson AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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 calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Jackson AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Jackson AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Jackson AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Jackson AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Jackson home, go to the school and attend 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending 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 attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Accredited Jackson Interior Design Colleges

Choose the Ideal Jackson Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools 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.