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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Gateway AK, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Gateway AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Gateway AK interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new profession in Gateway AK. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply 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 job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance 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 college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Gateway AK homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure 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 schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Gateway AK home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Gateway AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Gateway AK college you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out 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 may also signify that the school has a large network of Gateway AK business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Gateway AK colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Gateway AK programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Gateway home, go to the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gateway AK, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Gateway Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Best Gateway Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gateway Alaska.