Accredited Interior Design Schools near Fairfield NJ 07004

How to Choose an Interior Design Program Fairfield New Jersey

commercial space in Fairfield created by interior design graduateNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Fairfield NJ, it’s time to start the process of choosing a school.  Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it’s important that you receive the right training to put your skills to work.  And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well.  So it’s very important that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final choice.  But where do you start?  Some potential students will begin their search by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs.  While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones.  Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well.  We will cover those and other important questions that you should be asking the schools you are interested in.  But first, let’s talk a little bit more about interior design and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

Many people confuse interior design with interior decoration and vice versa.  The main difference between the two is the level of education required.  Any person can work as an interior decorator in Fairfield if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces.  However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree and be licensed.  Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional.  On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects.  There are two broad areas that an interior designer may specialize in:

Residential Designing.  Interior Designers often work on new and existing homes.  They can design basically any room of the home, including closets and basements.  Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.

Commercial Designing.  When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both.  For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function.  Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture.  They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions.  From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating feng shui principles, interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degrees

interior design of Fairfield living roomThere are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Fairfield.  Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education.  But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited.  Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states.  More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later.  Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field.  They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many community colleges and vocational schools.  Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree.  They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer.  They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master’s Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor’s Degree.  Master’s Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices.  Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level.  The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.         

In order to work professionally 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 professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Classes

taking interior design classes online in FairfieldFor those who wish to study in the convenience of their Fairfield homes, there are accredited online interior design programs available.  Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult.  Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student.  For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance.  And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options.  Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well.  Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning.  If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options.  Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Fairfield home.  Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier.  The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well.  But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision.  There are other factors that you should consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the school.  Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited?  It’s important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in have been accredited by either a regional or national organization.  One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).  Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs.  Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization.  Not only will it help confirm the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan.  Often they are not available for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Fairfield employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing?  As we previously mentioned, some states do require that interior designers become licensed.  This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as degree from an accredited school.  And in some of those states requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well.  So in addition to providing an excellent education, the school you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for the state where you will be working.

What is the Job Placement Rate?  Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance finding your first job in Fairfield.  Ask the schools 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 held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after.  It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of business contacts to which they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered?  Contact the financial aid departments for the schools you are evaluating and find out what type of assistance they offer.  Many of the interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students.  Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans.  Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification.  Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance in 07004.

How Large are the Classes?  Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction.  If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers.  Ask the colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are.  If convenient from your Fairfield home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes.  Take the opportunity to speak with some 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, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes that fit your busy schedule.  This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school.  If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairfield, make sure that those classes are offered.  If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well.  Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College Fairfield NJ

Choosing the right interior designer school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation.  Just make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field.  By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare schools so that you make the right final selection.  And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal to become an interior designer in Fairfield New Jersey.

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