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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Degree Program near College Alaska

College Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near College AK, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since several 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 crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in College AK can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, College AK interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in College AK. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose 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 several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position 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 offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their College AK homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent 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 practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance 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 right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your College AK home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of College AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the College AK program you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of College AK business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the College AK schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the College AK colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your College home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near College AK, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About College Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right College Interior Design Program

Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in College Alaska.