Interior Designer Degree
How to Pick the Right One Near Prichard Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Prichard AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So in order to analyze and compare each program you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision it's essential that you carry out the proper research. But where do you begin? When looking for interior design programs, the majority of students start by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will address 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Prichard AL can 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Prichard AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Prichard AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure 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 covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Prichard AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no 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 study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Prichard AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Prichard AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Prichard AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Prichard AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Prichard AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Prichard AL colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Prichard home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Prichard AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Find Out More About Becoming an Interior Designer in Prichard
Choose the Right Prichard Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. It is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prichard Alabama.
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