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How to Select the Best Interior Design College near Fairhope Alabama

Fairhope Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Fairhope AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 training alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Fairhope AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Fairhope AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Fairhope AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam 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 amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions 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 creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree 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, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Fairhope AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task 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 home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fairhope AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Fairhope AL program you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Fairhope AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Fairhope AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may 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, go to the school 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? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairhope AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Fairhope Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance 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 final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairhope Alabama.