How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Nikiski Alaska
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Nikiski 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 interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are offered.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Nikiski AK may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to 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 wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Nikiski AK interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Nikiski AK. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available 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 furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover 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 secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Nikiski AK homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Nikiski AK home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Nikiski AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Nikiski AK school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training 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? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Nikiski AK business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Nikiski AK schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Nikiski AK programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Nikiski home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Nikiski AK, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose in the Right Nikiski Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Nikiski Alaska.