How to Choose an Interior Designer College near Prattville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Prattville AL, it’s time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it’s essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it’s crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics 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 options are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator in Prattville AL if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous 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 many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers in Prattville AL often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, Prattville AL designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design in Prattville AL that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They 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 incorporating Feng shui principles, interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available near Prattville AL.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Prattville AL area community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects 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 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want 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 as a professional and use the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no Prattville AL area interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your Prattville AL area school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It’s important to confirm that the interior designer college and program 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Prattville AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those states requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Prattville AL school you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the state where you will be employed.
What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Prattville AL area business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of Prattville AL area interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Prattville AL programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the Prattville AL interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Interior Design Certification Training near Prattville AlabamaSelecting the right interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to recieve a higher education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer.
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