How to Find the Right Interior Design Program near Cullman Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Cullman AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad 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 a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Cullman AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Cullman AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose 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) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Cullman AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure 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 earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Cullman AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Cullman AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Cullman AL school you choose should also provide the appropriate 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Cullman AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Cullman AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cullman AL programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cullman home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night 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 as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Cullman Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cullman Alabama.