Interior Designer Program
How to Pick the Right One Near Prattville Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Prattville AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. It's important that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to assess and compare each college you are considering before you make your ultimate decision it's essential that you carry out the proper research. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. However, a school is not always the right choice just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. There are a number of other qualifications that you should weigh when comparing schools, such as reputation and accreditation. We will address those issues and other important 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 about the degree and training options are available.
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Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Prattville AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of 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) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Prattville AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have selected 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 needs to be within commuting distance from your Prattville AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by 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 an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Prattville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School 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 as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Prattville AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable 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 School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Prattville AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Prattville AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Prattville AL colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Prattville home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prattville AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Prattville Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.