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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college 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 imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills 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 carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask 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 training alternatives are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. 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 room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Prichard AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Prichard AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations 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 about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Prichard AL homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Prichard AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Prichard AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Prichard AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Prichard AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Prichard AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized 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 student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Prichard home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prichard AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Prichard Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Prichard Alabama.