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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Princeton AL

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Princeton AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final selection. But where do you start? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Princeton AL

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Princeton AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks 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 need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Princeton Alabama interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Princeton AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment 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 components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually 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 some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

Princeton AL student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the comfort of their Princeton AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Princeton AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive 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 organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Princeton Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Princeton AL school you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Princeton AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Princeton AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Princeton AL schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Princeton home, go to the school and attend 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Princeton AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Princeton Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Princeton AlabamaChoosing the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Princeton Alabama.