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How to Find the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska interior designed living room with viewNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Gateway AK, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you must ask 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 training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained 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 two broad categories that an interior designer in Gateway AK can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Gateway AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain 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 a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure 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 provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Gateway AK homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer 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 lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have selected the interior design 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 must be within commuting distance from your Gateway AK home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, 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 hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Gateway AK school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Gateway AK business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Gateway AK colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Gateway AK programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Gateway home, go to the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant 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, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Gateway Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gateway Alaska.