Interior Designer Degree
How to Select the Right One Near Fairhope Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of selecting an interior design school near Fairhope AL once you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. It's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since interior designers are licensed in several states, the college you select should prep you to pass any required licensing test and provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's essential you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. There are a number of other factors that you should evaluate when comparing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Fairhope AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. 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 particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Fairhope AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Fairhope AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money 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 required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically 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 cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Classes
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Fairhope AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Fairhope AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fairhope AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Fairhope AL program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Fairhope AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Fairhope AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Fairhope AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Fairhope home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fairhope AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Fairhope Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairhope Alabama.