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How to Choose the Right Interior Design College near Orange Beach Alabama

Orange Beach Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Orange Beach AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities 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 examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of 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 spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Orange Beach AL may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They 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 integrating Feng shui concepts, Orange Beach AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Orange Beach AL. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure 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 some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment 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 creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Orange Beach AL homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized 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 education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Orange Beach AL residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Orange Beach AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Orange Beach AL school you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Orange Beach AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Orange Beach AL schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large 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. Find out from the Orange Beach AL colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Orange Beach home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your active 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 Orange Beach AL, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you 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.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Orange Beach Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Orange Beach Alabama.