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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Princeton AL

How to Find the Right Interior Designer College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Princeton AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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 alternatives are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Princeton AL

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories 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, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must 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 concepts, Princeton Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Princeton AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

Princeton AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Princeton AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Princeton AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges 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 Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Princeton Alabama employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an excellent education, the Princeton AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Princeton AL business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Princeton AL colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Princeton AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Princeton home, go to the college and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design 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 Princeton AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School near Princeton Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Princeton AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior design college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Princeton Alabama.