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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Palmer Alaska

Palmer Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Palmer AK, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final choice. But where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas 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 basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Palmer AK interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new profession in Palmer AK. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at many Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment 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 facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Palmer AK homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs 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 commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Palmer AK home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting 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 schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Palmer AK college you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance 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 high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Palmer AK business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Palmer AK colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Palmer AK programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Palmer home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly 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 available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Palmer Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Palmer Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Palmer Alaska.