How to Select an Interior Designer College Columbia 36319
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Columbia AL, it’s time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it’s imperative 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 could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it’s crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some future students will begin their research by looking for colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let’s talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work in Columbia AL as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor’s Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction in Alabama. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with 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 spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a Columbia designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in Columbia as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment in Columbia as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position in Alabama as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Columbia homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges 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 reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Columbia home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It’s necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and school 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Columbia employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College 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 program. And in some of those states mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the college you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be employed.
What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job in Columbia. Ask the programs that you are reviewing 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 school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the schools you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer in 36319. Many of Alabama interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Columbia home, go to the campus and monitor 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 approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Columbia, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Select the Ideal Interior Designer College Columbia ALSelecting the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer.