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How to Pick the Best Interior Design Program near College Alaska

College Alaska interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college 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 essential that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those issues and other important 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 choices are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many 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 some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in College AK can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to 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, College AK interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new profession in College AK. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated 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 offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential 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 achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ 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, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their College AK homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your College AK residence. Of course 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 expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many College AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the College AK college you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help 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 higher rate is an excellent indication that the school 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 College AK business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the College AK colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the College AK schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your College home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near College AK, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best College Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in College Alaska.