How to Find an Interior Designer Degree Program near Jefferson Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Jefferson AL, it’s time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it’s essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate 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 crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final choice. But where do you start? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching 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 should be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let’s cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator in Jefferson AL if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers in Jefferson AL frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, Jefferson AL designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design in Jefferson AL that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need 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 concepts, interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have 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 required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered near Jefferson AL.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at many Jefferson AL area trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly 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 professionally and use the title of “Interior Designer”, many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For anyone wishing’ to study in the convenience of their homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no Jefferson AL area interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your Jefferson AL area college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It’s imperative to make sure 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 highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Jefferson AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 school. And in some of those states requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Jefferson AL program you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the state where you will be employed.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Jefferson AL area business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of Jefferson AL area interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Jefferson AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the Jefferson AL interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Interior Designer School near Jefferson AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer.
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