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How to Select the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Meadow Lakes Alaska

Meadow Lakes Alaska interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design 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 imperative that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many 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 Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are several 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 read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Meadow Lakes AK interior designers utilize a wide range 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 get the training needed to begin your new profession in Meadow Lakes AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of 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 needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth 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 graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things 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 mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

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 some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Meadow Lakes AK homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Meadow Lakes AK home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Meadow Lakes AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Meadow Lakes AK college you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college 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 Meadow Lakes AK business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Meadow Lakes AK schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Meadow Lakes AK schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Meadow Lakes home, go to the college 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 philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Meadow 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 option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Meadow Lakes Interior Design School

Picking the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding 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 major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Meadow Lakes Alaska.