How to Pick the Best Interior Designer College near Gateway Alaska
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Gateway AK, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial 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 training options are available.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Gateway AK can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Gateway AK interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Gateway AK. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Gateway AK homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Gateway AK home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Gateway AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Gateway AK college you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Gateway AK business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Gateway AK colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Gateway AK schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Gateway home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Gateway AK, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Gateway Interior Design College
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However 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 effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gateway Alaska.