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How to Select the Best Interior Design Program near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Lakes AK, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 options are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Lakes AK can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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 may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Lakes AK interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new career in Lakes AK. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be 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 addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position 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 choices in specialty 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. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Lakes AK homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Lakes AK home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Lakes AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Lakes AK school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing 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 highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Lakes AK business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Lakes AK colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Lakes AK colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Lakes home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Lakes AK, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Lakes Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Lakes Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lakes Alaska.