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How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Meadow Lakes Alaska

Meadow Lakes Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Meadow Lakes AK, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Meadow Lakes AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Meadow Lakes AK interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new career in Meadow Lakes AK. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Meadow Lakes AK homes, there are accredited online 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 many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized 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 structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Meadow Lakes AK home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Meadow 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 require that interior designers get 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 as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Meadow Lakes AK college you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Meadow Lakes AK business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Meadow Lakes AK colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Meadow Lakes AK programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Meadow Lakes home, go to the campus and attend a few 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, confirm that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Meadow Lakes AK, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Meadow Lakes Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Meadow Lakes Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several points 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 profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions 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 superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meadow Lakes Alaska.