How to Pick an Interior Design Program near Missoula Montana
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Missoula MT, it’s time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it’s imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it’s crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent 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 trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Missoula MT can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Missoula MT interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Missoula MT. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain 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 accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at many Montana community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position 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 offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually 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 degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Designer Degree Programs
For anyone wishing’ to study in the convenience of their Missoula MT homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges 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 study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Missoula MT home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It’s essential to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Missoula MT employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Missoula MT college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Montana or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School’s Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Missoula MT business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Missoula MT schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools 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. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Missoula MT colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Missoula home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Missoula MT, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Considering Attending Interior Design School in Missoula MT?
Missoula /mɪˈzuːlə/ ( listen) is a city in the U.S. state of Montana and is the county seat of Missoula County. It is located along the Clark Fork River near its confluences with the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers in western Montana and at the convergence of five mountain ranges, thus is often described as the "hub of five valleys". In 2016[update], the United States Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 72,364 and the population of the Missoula Metropolitan Area at 116,130. After Billings, Missoula is both the second largest city and metropolitan area in Montana. Missoula is home to the University of Montana, a public research university.
Missoula was founded in 1860 as Hellgate Trading Post while still part of Washington Territory. By 1866, the settlement had moved east, 5 miles (8 km) upstream, and renamed Missoula Mills, later shortened to Missoula. The mills provided supplies to western settlers traveling along the Mullan Road. The establishment of Fort Missoula in 1877 to protect settlers further stabilized the economy. The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1883 brought rapid growth and the maturation of the local lumber industry. In 1893, the Montana Legislature chose the city as the site for the state's first university. Along with the U.S. Forest Service headquarters founded in 1908, lumber and the university remained staples of the local economy for the next hundred years.
By the 1990s, Missoula's lumber industry had gradually disappeared, and as of 2009[update], the city's largest employers were the University of Montana, Missoula County Public Schools, and Missoula's two hospitals. The city is governed by a mayor–council government with twelve city council members, two from each of the six wards. In and around Missoula are 400 acres (160 ha) of parkland, 22 miles (35 km) of trails, and nearly 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) of open-space conservation land with adjacent Mount Jumbo home to grazing elk and mule deer during the winter. The city is also home to both Montana's largest and its oldest active breweries as well as the Montana Grizzlies, one of the strongest college football programs in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Notable residents include the first woman in the U.S. Congress, Jeannette Rankin, and the United States' longest-serving Senate Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield.
Select the Best Interior Design School near Missoula MT
Choosing the right interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to recieve an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Missoula MT.
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