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How to Select the Right Interior Design Program near Cullman Alabama

Cullman Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Cullman AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 choices are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Cullman AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically 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 example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, 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 primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Cullman AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Cullman AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain 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 deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Cullman AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Cullman AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Cullman AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Cullman AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Cullman AL business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Cullman AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Cullman AL programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Cullman home, go to the school and attend 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Cullman AL, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Cullman Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still essential that you perform 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 interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cullman Alabama.