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How to Find the Best Interior Designer Course near Fairhope Alabama

Fairhope Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Fairhope AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper 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 examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 options are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction 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 talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Fairhope AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Fairhope AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Fairhope AL. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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 short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment 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 technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student 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 choices in specialty majors for such things 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 differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Fairhope AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole 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 program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Fairhope AL home. Naturally if you are interested in 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 cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fairhope AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Fairhope AL school you select should also provide the proper instruction 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Fairhope AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Fairhope AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fairhope AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Fairhope home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairhope AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. 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 Right Fairhope Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly 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 achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairhope Alabama.