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How to Find the Right Interior Design College near Fairfield Alabama

Fairfield Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Fairfield AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas 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 basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential 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 create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Fairfield AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new profession 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 no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain 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 some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options 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 mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Fairfield AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a recognized 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 dedication 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Fairfield AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Fairfield AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Fairfield AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Fairfield AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Fairfield AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fairfield AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fairfield home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairfield AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Fairfield Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairfield Alabama.