How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program near Palmer Alaska
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Palmer AK, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Palmer AK may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Palmer AK interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Palmer AK. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals 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 sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential 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 acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Palmer AK homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good option 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 a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Palmer AK home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Palmer AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Palmer AK school you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Palmer AK business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Palmer AK colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Palmer AK programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Palmer home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Palmer AK, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Palmer Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Palmer Alaska.