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How to Pick the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Sterling Alaska

Sterling Alaska interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Sterling AK, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other vital 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 options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Sterling AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Sterling AK interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Sterling AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Sterling AK homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are working 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 practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Sterling AK residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Sterling AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Sterling AK college you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges 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 college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Sterling AK business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Sterling AK colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Sterling AK colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Sterling home, go to the college 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 experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers 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 at night or on weekends near Sterling AK, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Sterling Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Sterling Interior Design Program

Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sterling Alaska.