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How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Cullman Alabama

Cullman Alabama interior designed living room with viewNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Cullman AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Cullman AL can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must 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 create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Cullman AL interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Cullman AL. 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 regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Cullman AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a respected 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Cullman AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Cullman AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Cullman AL program you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs 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 an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Cullman AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Cullman AL schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate 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 Cullman AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Cullman home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will 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 available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Best Cullman Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking 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, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cullman Alabama.