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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Prattville AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account 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 before we do, 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 Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Prattville AL

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Prattville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Prattville AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Why Study to 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

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Prattville AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. 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 school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Prattville Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Prattville AL college you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Prattville AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Prattville AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Prattville AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Prattville home, visit the school 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 approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Prattville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Prattville AlabamaChoosing the right interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.