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How to Find the Right Interior Design School Columbiana Alabama

Columbiana Alabama luxury interior designed bathroomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Columbiana 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 get the proper training to put your skills 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 examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Many potential students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Columbiana AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate primarily 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 focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Columbiana AL interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new career in Columbiana AL. Your choice 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 opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • 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 offered at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Columbiana AL homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools 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 commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Columbiana AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Columbiana AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Columbiana AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out 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 field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Columbiana AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Columbiana AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Columbiana AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Columbiana home, visit the college and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Columbiana AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Accredited Columbiana Interior Design Schools

Find the Ideal Columbiana Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer school is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many points to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest 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 appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Columbiana AL.