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

Gateway Alaska interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Gateway AK, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Gateway AK can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers 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 implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Gateway AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Gateway AK homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire 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 college may be the perfect option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Gateway AK residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Gateway AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Gateway AK program you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 earned your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Gateway AK business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Gateway AK colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Gateway AK programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Gateway home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gateway 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, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Gateway Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gateway Alaska.