Interior Designer Degree
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Cullman Alabama
So it’s time to begin the process of picking an interior design school near Cullman AL now that you have made a career choice to become an interior designer. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to analyze and compare each program you are reviewing prior to making your final choice it's essential that you perform the appropriate due diligence. But just where do you start? When looking for interior design schools, many potential students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Cullman AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Cullman AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new profession in Cullman AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions 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 typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Degree Programs
For students who to study in the comfort of their Cullman AL homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic 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 some students online schools 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. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain 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 option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Cullman AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Cullman AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become 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 calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Cullman AL college you enroll in 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 working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. 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 held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Cullman AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Cullman AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cullman AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cullman home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Cullman AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose the Right Cullman Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. It is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cullman Alabama.