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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Gateway AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of training 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, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Gateway AK may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Gateway AK interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Gateway AK. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Gateway AK homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you choose 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 acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Gateway AK residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education 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 Gateway AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Gateway AK program you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Gateway AK business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Gateway AK colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Gateway AK schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Gateway home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gateway AK, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Gateway Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Right Gateway Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gateway Alaska.