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How to Select the Right Interior Design School near Bethel Alaska

Bethel Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Bethel AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just where do you start? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask 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 class options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Bethel AK may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Bethel AK interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Bethel AK. Your choice will no doubt 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 choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations 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 approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Bethel AK homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative 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 costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Bethel AK residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate 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 closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Bethel AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School 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 some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Bethel AK school you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Bethel AK business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Bethel AK colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Bethel AK colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Bethel home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Bethel AK, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Bethel Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Bethel Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bethel Alaska.