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How to Select the Right Interior Design Course near Orange Beach Alabama

Orange Beach Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Orange Beach AL, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, 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

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business 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 formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Orange Beach AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Orange Beach AL interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Orange Beach AL. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time 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 mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of 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 deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally 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 field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Orange Beach AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic 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 many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs 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 study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Orange Beach AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Orange Beach AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Orange Beach AL school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly 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, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Orange Beach AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Orange Beach AL colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Orange Beach AL colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Orange Beach home, go to the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Orange Beach AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Right Orange Beach Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Orange Beach Alabama.