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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Find the Right Interior Design Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Prattville AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents 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 very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Design and 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 do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Prattville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Prattville Alabama interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Prattville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam 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 supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

Prattville Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Prattville AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design 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 an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining 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 programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Prattville AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements 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 designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out 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 in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Prattville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Prattville AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors 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 larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Prattville AL programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Prattville home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm 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, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Prattville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Prattville AlabamaPicking the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.