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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Select the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Prattville AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? Some future students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Prattville AL

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Prattville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Prattville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt 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 professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Prattville AL home. 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 expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation 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 agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Prattville Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare 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) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Prattville AL college you choose should also provide the proper training 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college 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 college has a sizable network of Prattville AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Prattville AL colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Prattville AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Prattville home, go to the college and monitor 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 philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program near Prattville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Prattville AlabamaPicking the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.