How to Find the Right Interior Design School near Palmer Alaska
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Palmer AK, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But just where do you start? Some potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Palmer AK may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks 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, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Palmer AK interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new profession in Palmer AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous 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 provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
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 professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Palmer AK homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs 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 minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Palmer AK home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Palmer AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Palmer AK program you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing 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 regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Palmer AK business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Palmer AK colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Palmer AK programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Palmer home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you select 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 in the evening or on weekends near Palmer AK, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Palmer Interior Design Program
Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Palmer Alaska.