How to Select the Right Interior Designer College Jackson Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Jackson AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues 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 training choices are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them 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 spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Jackson AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Jackson AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Jackson AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure 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 several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Classes
For students who to study in the comfort of their Jackson AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many 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 conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Jackson AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. 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 a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Jackson AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Jackson AL school you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Jackson AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Jackson AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Jackson AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Jackson home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening 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, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Find the Right Jackson Interior Design Program
Picking the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Jackson AL.