Interior Designer Degree
How to Find the Right One Near Cullman Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Cullman AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. It's important 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 interior designers are licensed in several states, the college you choose should prep you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's essential you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction 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 spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas 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 the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, 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 concern.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Cullman AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new career in Cullman AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. 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 technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training 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 enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Schools
For students who 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 option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving 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 minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn 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 Schools
When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Cullman AL home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Cullman AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to 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 also. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Cullman AL college you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Cullman AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Cullman AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Cullman AL programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cullman home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Cullman AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find Out More About Studying to Become an Interior Designer in Cullman
Enroll in the Best Cullman Interior Design School
Picking the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cullman Alabama.
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