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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design School

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer 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 residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 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 primary distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many 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 areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Prattville AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals 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, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Prattville Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Prattville AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire 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 professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Schools

Prattville AL student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the comfort of their Prattville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Prattville AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing 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 colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Prattville AL program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Prattville AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Prattville AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Prattville AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Prattville home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Prattville Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Prattville AlabamaPicking the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.