How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Program near Palmer Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Palmer AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 options are available.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Palmer AK may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Palmer AK interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Palmer AK. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed 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 amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available 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 provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Palmer AK homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools 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 study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected 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 dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Palmer AK residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive 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 should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. 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 gone through a rigorous assessment 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Palmer AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Palmer AK college you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Palmer AK business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Palmer AK colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may 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 convenient from your Palmer home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college 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 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 attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Palmer Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Palmer Alaska.