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How to Find the Right Interior Design School near Fairhope Alabama

Fairhope Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Fairhope AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Fairhope AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. 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 kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as 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 carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Fairhope AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Fairhope AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. 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 differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional 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 professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Fairhope AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded 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 obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Fairhope AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive 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 also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 establish 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 schools. Also, many Fairhope AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) 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 outstanding education, the Fairhope AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask 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 field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Fairhope AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Fairhope AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fairhope AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Fairhope home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairhope AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Fairhope Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Fairhope Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. 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 colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairhope Alabama.