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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Prattville AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Design College

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Prattville AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent 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 require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Prattville AL

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person 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 a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Prattville AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, 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 consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to 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 create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Prattville Alabama interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Prattville AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter 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) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required 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 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving 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 advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Classes

Prattville AL student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to study in the convenience of their Prattville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Prattville AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college 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 schools. Also, many Prattville Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Prattville AL school you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Prattville AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Prattville AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate 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 schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Prattville home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option 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 designer school is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.