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How to Find the Best Interior Designer Program near Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Sitka AK, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Sitka AK may 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, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Sitka AK interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new profession in Sitka AK. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Sitka AK homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. 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 only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Sitka AK home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Sitka AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Sitka AK school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Sitka AK business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Sitka AK colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Sitka AK programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Sitka home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Sitka AK, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Best Sitka Interior Design School

Selecting the right interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sitka Alaska.