How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program near Palmer Alaska
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Palmer AK, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive 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 could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many potential students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 choices are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill 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 Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Palmer AK can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Palmer AK interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Palmer AK. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation 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 needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required 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 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve 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 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 use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges 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 comfort of their Palmer AK homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic 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 many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain 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 Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Palmer AK home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance 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 programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Palmer AK college you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Palmer AK business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Palmer AK schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Palmer AK colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Palmer home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Palmer AK, make sure 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, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Best Palmer Interior Design Program
Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Palmer Alaska.