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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Palmer Alaska

Palmer Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Palmer AK, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Palmer AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, 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 looks as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, 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 designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new career in Palmer AK. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects 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 job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Palmer AK homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Palmer AK residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Palmer AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Palmer AK college you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Palmer AK business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Palmer AK colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Palmer AK programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Palmer home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Palmer AK, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Palmer Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Palmer Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Palmer Alaska.