How to Find the Best Interior Design College near Fairhope Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Fairhope 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 spaces, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Fairhope AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Fairhope AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Fairhope AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets 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 job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Fairhope AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Fairhope AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Fairhope AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Fairhope AL college you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement 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 highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Fairhope AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Fairhope AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fairhope AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Fairhope home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairhope AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose in the Right Fairhope Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded 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 provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairhope Alabama.