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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Prattville 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 receive the appropriate 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 as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Prattville AL

Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Prattville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Prattville Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Prattville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment 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 technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Prattville AL student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Prattville AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Prattville Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 college. 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 furnishing an exceptional education, the Prattville AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Prattville AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Prattville AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Prattville AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Prattville home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Prattville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Prattville AlabamaChoosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs 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 Prattville Alabama.