How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program Jackson Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Jackson AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will address those topics and other important 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 training alternatives are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction 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 skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Jackson AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Jackson AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Jackson AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral 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 typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Jackson AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Jackson AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment 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 organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Jackson AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Jackson AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs 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 school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may 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? Contact the financial aid departments for the Jackson AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Jackson AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Jackson home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Jackson AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Best Jackson Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential 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 properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jackson AL.