How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Course near Fairhope Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Fairhope AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Fairhope AL can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Fairhope AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Fairhope AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business 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 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Fairhope AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only 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. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Fairhope AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fairhope AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Fairhope AL program you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing 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 school and its programs are held in high esteem 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 relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Fairhope AL schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Fairhope AL programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Fairhope home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fairhope AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Right Fairhope Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairhope Alabama.