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How to Select the Right Interior Designer College near Knik Fairview Alaska

Knik Fairview Alaska interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Knik Fairview AK, it's time to begin 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 obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But where do you start? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between the two is the level of training 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 requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Knik Fairview AK may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Knik Fairview AK interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Knik Fairview AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed 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 attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Knik Fairview 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 attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 also. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Knik Fairview AK home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select 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 a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Knik Fairview AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Knik Fairview AK school you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Knik Fairview AK business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Knik Fairview AK schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Knik Fairview AK schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Knik Fairview home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Knik Fairview AK, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Right Knik Fairview Interior Design School

Picking the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively 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 Knik Fairview Alaska.