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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Pick the Best Interior Design Course

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Prattville AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 class options are offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Prattville AL

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Prattville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have 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, Prattville Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Prattville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed 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 brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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 several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Schools

Prattville AL student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the convenience of their Prattville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Prattville AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Prattville Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Prattville AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate education 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 no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Prattville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Prattville AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small 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. Find out from the Prattville AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Prattville home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out 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 sure that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Prattville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Prattville AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.