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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program near College Alaska

College Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near College AK, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business 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 many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in College AK can 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, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas 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 consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new profession in College AK. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs 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 creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their College AK homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your College AK home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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 gone through a demanding evaluation 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many College AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the College AK program you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of College AK business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the College AK colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the College AK programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your College home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near College AK, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best College Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided 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 determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in College Alaska.