How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Fairfield Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Fairfield AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business 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 formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Fairfield AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically 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 may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Fairfield AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new career in Fairfield AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered 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 furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed 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 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Fairfield AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Fairfield AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fairfield AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Fairfield AL college you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Fairfield AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Fairfield AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Fairfield AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fairfield home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairfield AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Fairfield Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairfield Alabama.