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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Bethel Alaska

Bethel Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Bethel AK, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of future students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Bethel AK can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Bethel AK interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new profession in Bethel AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 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 some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Bethel AK homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected 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 online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Bethel AK home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Bethel AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Bethel AK college you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Bethel AK business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

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

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Bethel AK programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Bethel home, visit 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 styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Bethel AK, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Best Bethel Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Bethel Alaska.