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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Princeton AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Princeton 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 interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will address those issues 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Princeton AL

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training 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 residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Princeton AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Princeton Alabama interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Princeton AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many 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 provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance 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 college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Princeton Alabama interior designer bathroomWhen you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Princeton AL residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid 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 Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Princeton AL program you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Princeton AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Princeton AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized 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 typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Princeton home, go to the school and sit in on 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 philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Princeton AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Design College near Princeton Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Princeton AlabamaChoosing the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Princeton Alabama.