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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Choose the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Prattville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics 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 training options are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Prattville AL

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Prattville AL may 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, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Prattville Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Prattville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of 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) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available 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 furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically 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, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Prattville Alabama interior designer bathroomOnce you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Prattville AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions 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 assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the college 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 offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Prattville Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require 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 some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Prattville AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Prattville AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Prattville AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Prattville AL schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Prattville home, go to the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Prattville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Prattville AlabamaPicking the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest 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 ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.