How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program Fayetteville Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Fayetteville AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your talents 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 in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires 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 living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Fayetteville AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Fayetteville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new career in Fayetteville AL. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Fayetteville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. 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 lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Fayetteville AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fayetteville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Fayetteville AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Fayetteville AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Fayetteville AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fayetteville AL colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Fayetteville home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fayetteville 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 alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Right Fayetteville Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fayetteville AL.