How to Find an Interior Design Course near Washington District of Columbia
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Washington DC, it’s time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it’s important that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it’s crucial that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 offered.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor’s or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Washington DC can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly 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 emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Washington DC interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Washington DC. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at many District of Columbia trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Colleges
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Washington DC homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Washington DC residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It’s essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Washington DC employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an excellent education, the Washington DC school you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for District of Columbia or the State where you will be working.
What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance 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 esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Washington DC business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Washington DC colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Washington DC programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Washington home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Washington DC, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Attending Interior Design School in Washington DC?
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States of America. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. Washington is the principal city of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which has a population of 6,131,977. Washington is described as the political Capital of the World, owing to its status as the seat of the United States Federal Government and numerous international institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Washington is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million annual tourists.
The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of President George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.
Washington had an estimated population of 693,972 as of July 2017. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's population to more than one million during the workweek. The Washington metropolitan area, of which the District is the principal city, has a population of over 6 million, the sixth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country.
Pick the Right Interior Design School near Washington DC
Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Washington DC.
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