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How to Find the Best Interior Designer College near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Prichard AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories 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 basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Prichard AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Prichard AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several 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. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Prichard AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Prichard AL home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify 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 offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Prichard AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Prichard AL school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, 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 may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Prichard AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Prichard AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Prichard AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Prichard home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Prichard AL, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Prichard Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prichard Alabama.