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How to Choose the Right Interior Design School near Lakes Alaska

Lakes Alaska interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Lakes AK, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? Some future 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 relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Lakes AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily 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 stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Lakes AK interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new career in Lakes AK. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make 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 benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized 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. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Lakes AK homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Lakes AK home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, including 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 as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Lakes AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Lakes AK program you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements 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 position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Lakes AK business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Lakes AK schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Lakes AK schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Lakes home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Lakes AK, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm 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 Courses

Choose in the Best Lakes Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lakes Alaska.