Interior Designer School
How to Pick the Best One Near Fairhope Alabama
So it’s time to start the process of choosing an interior design school near Fairhope AL once you have made a career choice to become an interior designer. It's important that you get the best available training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to analyze and compare each school you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice it's essential that you do the proper research. But where do you start? When looking for interior design programs, the majority of students start by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the right option simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to 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 interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Fairhope AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example 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 picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Fairhope AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new profession in Fairhope AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make 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 several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. 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 wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Classes
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Fairhope AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Fairhope AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fairhope AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become 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 school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Fairhope AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable education 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Fairhope AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Fairhope AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fairhope AL schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Fairhope home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairhope AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Learn More About How to Become an Interior Designer in Fairhope
Choose the Best Fairhope Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented 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 excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairhope Alabama.
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