How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Cullman Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Cullman AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain 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 as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 options are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates 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 educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Cullman AL may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Cullman AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Cullman AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Cullman AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded 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 learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Cullman AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. 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 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Cullman AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Cullman AL college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Cullman AL business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Cullman AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Cullman AL schools you are reviewing 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 find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Cullman AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Right Cullman Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cullman Alabama.