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How to Pick the Best Interior Designer College near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Gateway AK, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general 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 basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, 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 main consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce 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 ultimate designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new profession in Gateway AK. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide 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 minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ 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 require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate 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 a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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When you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Gateway AK residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Gateway AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Gateway AK program you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support 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 indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Gateway AK business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Gateway AK schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively 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 one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Gateway AK colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Gateway home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will 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 offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Gateway Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Gateway Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review 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 reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gateway Alaska.