Interior Designer School
How to Select the Best One Near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Prattville AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But just how do you undertake enrolling in the right program? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. However, a school is not always the right choice just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 class options are offered.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Prattville AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Prattville AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Prattville AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Prattville AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Prattville AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Prattville AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Prattville AL college 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 working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Prattville AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Prattville AL colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Prattville AL schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student 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 find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend 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, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Prattville Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. It is still essential that you complete 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 programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prattville Alabama.