How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Program near Homer Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Homer AK, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on 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 looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Homer AK can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly 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 focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Homer AK interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Homer AK. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally 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 degree programs become licensed. In several 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 study in the comfort of their Homer AK homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs 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 environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Homer AK residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Homer AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Homer AK college you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Homer AK business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Homer AK schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Homer AK schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Homer home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Homer AK, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Homer Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential 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 colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Homer Alaska.