How to Select the Right Interior Design College near Sitka Alaska
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Sitka AK, it's time to start the process of choosing 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 talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Sitka AK can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus 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 banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Sitka AK interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Sitka AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain 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 discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt 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 take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the comfort of their Sitka AK homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. 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 perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Sitka AK residence. Obviously 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 cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Sitka AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Sitka AK school you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a substantial network of Sitka AK business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Sitka AK colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Sitka AK schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Sitka home, visit the college and sit in on 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Sitka AK, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Best Sitka Interior Design College
Choosing the right interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sitka Alaska.