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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Fairfield Alabama

Fairfield Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Fairfield AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 class options are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Fairfield AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Fairfield AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Fairfield AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed 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 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. 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 university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Fairfield AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no 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 reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded 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 education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Fairfield AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fairfield AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Fairfield AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Fairfield AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Fairfield AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will 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 practical from your Fairfield home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairfield AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Fairfield Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Fairfield Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairfield Alabama.