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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Course Columbiana Alabama

Columbiana Alabama luxury interior designed spacious bathroomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Columbiana AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of 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 essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. 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 consideration also. We will address 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two 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 room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Columbiana AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new career in Columbiana AL. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Columbiana AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select 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 learning. 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Columbiana AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Columbiana AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Columbiana AL program you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing 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 need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, 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 sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Columbiana AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Columbiana AL colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Columbiana AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Columbiana home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out 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 Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Columbiana AL, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Top Columbiana Interior Design Colleges

Find the Right Columbiana Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Columbiana AL.