How to Select an Interior Design Program near Williamsburg Virginia
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Williamsburg VA, it’s time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it’s important that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it’s essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. We will address those topics and other important 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 class choices are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator in Williamsburg VA if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates 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 work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers in Williamsburg VA often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, Williamsburg VA designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas 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 numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design in Williamsburg VA that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose 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) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered near Williamsburg VA.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Williamsburg VA area vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 attaining the Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such 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. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary 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 colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Schools
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no Williamsburg VA area interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance 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 right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your Williamsburg VA area college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It’s necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Williamsburg VA employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of states do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Williamsburg VA college you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Virginia or the state where you will be employed.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Williamsburg VA area business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. A number of Williamsburg VA area interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Williamsburg VA programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the Williamsburg VA interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Find the Right Interior Design Certification Training near Williamsburg VirginiaChoosing the right interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative 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 effectively assess and compare schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer.
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