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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program 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 spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level 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 numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Prichard AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to 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 employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Prichard AL. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits 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 needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives 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. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Prichard AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college 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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Prichard AL home. Obviously if you are interested in 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 options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected 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 college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Prichard AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Prichard AL program you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Prichard AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Prichard AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Prichard AL schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Prichard home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Prichard AL, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Prichard Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many points to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prichard Alabama.