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How to Find the Right Interior Designer Program near Orange Beach Alabama

Orange Beach Alabama interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Orange Beach 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 interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Orange Beach AL can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must 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 utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new profession in Orange Beach AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ 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 mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Orange Beach AL homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Orange Beach AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Orange Beach AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Orange Beach AL school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Orange Beach AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Orange Beach AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors 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 larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Orange Beach AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Orange Beach home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy 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 Orange Beach AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Orange Beach Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Orange Beach Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate 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.