How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Kenai Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Kenai AK, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift 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 require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers 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 researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Kenai AK can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate 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, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Kenai AK interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new career in Kenai AK. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Kenai AK homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic 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 schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Kenai AK residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Kenai AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Kenai AK school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Kenai AK business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Kenai AK colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Kenai AK programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Kenai home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Kenai AK, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Kenai Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Kenai Alaska.