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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Course near Palmer Alaska

Palmer Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Palmer AK, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Palmer AK can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several 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 read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Palmer AK interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Palmer AK. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Palmer AK homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Palmer AK home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Palmer AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready 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) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Palmer AK program you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Palmer AK business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Palmer AK colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? 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 colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Palmer home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Palmer AK, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Palmer Interior Design College

Picking the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. 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 perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided 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 superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Palmer Alaska.