How to Pick the Best Interior Design School near Sitka Alaska
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Sitka AK, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person 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, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Sitka AK may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Sitka AK interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Sitka AK. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief 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 about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually qualify for 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 aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Sitka AK homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be 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 schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Sitka AK residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Sitka AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Sitka AK college you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance 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 esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Sitka AK business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Sitka AK schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Sitka AK colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Sitka home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sitka AK, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Sitka Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sitka Alaska.