How to Choose an Interior Design College near West Springfield Massachusetts
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near West Springfield MA, 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 receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some 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 very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But exactly 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 location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other crucial 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 and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor’s or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in West Springfield MA can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, West Springfield MA interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new career in West Springfield MA. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Massachusetts community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely 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 three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Schools
For anyone wishing’ to attend classes in the convenience of their West Springfield MA homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole 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 study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your West Springfield MA home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It’s important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you enroll in 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of West Springfield MA employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the West Springfield MA school you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Massachusetts or the State where you will be working.
What is the College’s Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of West Springfield MA business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the West Springfield MA colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the West Springfield MA schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your West Springfield home, visit the school and sit in on a few 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 backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near West Springfield MA, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Considering Attending Interior Design School in West Springfield MA?
West Springfield, Massachusetts
West Springfield is a city in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 28,391 at the 2010 census. The city is also known as "West Side", in reference to the fact that it is on the western side of the Connecticut River from Springfield, a fact which played a major part in the town's early history.
In paraphrase, from the official town history book... The area that became known as West Springfield was settled in 1635. The settlers fled to higher ground on the east side of the river and founded Springfield in the aftermath of the great hurricane of 1635. West Springfield was good farm land, so some families did stay on the west side.
Other than the trade in beaver skins, economic activity in early colonial Springfield consisted largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry, with barter being the preferred medium of exchange for neighbors' crops, and locally produced goods. Gristmills and saw mills were also present in the early settlement.
Find the Right Interior Design School near West Springfield MA
Picking the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program 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 remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in West Springfield MA.
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