How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College Columbiana Alabama
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Columbiana AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires 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 educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Columbiana AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to 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 concepts, Columbiana AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Columbiana AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring 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 their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Columbiana AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. 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 alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Columbiana AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Columbiana AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Columbiana AL college you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Columbiana AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Columbiana AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often 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 Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Columbiana AL programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical 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 ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Columbiana AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Find the Right Columbiana Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Columbiana AL.