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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Prattville AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some future students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Prattville AL

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

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Prattville AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Prattville Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Prattville AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Prattville Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Prattville AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements 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 undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Prattville AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

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

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Prattville AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Prattville home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Prattville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Prattville AlabamaPicking the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.