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How to Find the Best Interior Designer College near Cullman Alabama

Cullman Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Cullman AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 options are offered.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Cullman AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Cullman AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Cullman AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief 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 two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Cullman AL homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient 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 added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Cullman AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Cullman AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Cullman AL college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Cullman AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Cullman AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cullman AL schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Cullman home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there 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? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Cullman AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Cullman Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cullman Alabama.