How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Fairfield Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Fairfield 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 important that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics 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 class alternatives are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Fairfield AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Fairfield AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new career in Fairfield AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for 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 facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure 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 provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Fairfield AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive 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 environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Fairfield AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fairfield AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Fairfield AL college you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools 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 an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Fairfield AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Fairfield AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fairfield AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Fairfield home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairfield AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Fairfield Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairfield Alabama.