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How to Pick the Best Interior Design Course near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Lakes AK, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Lakes AK may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Lakes AK. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate 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 the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Lakes AK homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Lakes AK home. Obviously 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 expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Lakes AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Lakes AK program you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Lakes AK business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Lakes AK schools you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Lakes AK programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Lakes home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Lakes AK, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative 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

Enroll in the Right Lakes Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lakes Alaska.