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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Prattville AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 choices are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Prattville AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business 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 educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories 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 essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new profession in Prattville AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain 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 offer choices 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 programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

Prattville AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Prattville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Prattville AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Prattville Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Prattville AL college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination 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? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance 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 school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Prattville AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Prattville AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Prattville AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Prattville home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Prattville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Prattville AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.