How to Choose the Right Interior Design College Columbiana Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Columbiana 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 important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 options are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires 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 trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Columbiana AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area 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 working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Columbiana AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Columbiana AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Degree Programs
For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Columbiana AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great alternative 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 convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Columbiana AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Columbiana AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Columbiana AL school you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement 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 field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Columbiana AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Columbiana AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Columbiana AL programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Columbiana home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Columbiana AL, verify 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 due to work, family or illness.
Select the Best Columbiana Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Columbiana AL.