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How to Choose the Right Interior Design College near Sterling Alaska

Sterling Alaska interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Sterling AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities 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 examination also. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important 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 Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training 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 a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Sterling AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Sterling AK interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Sterling AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed 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 two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized 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 their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Sterling AK homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Sterling AK residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of 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 examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Sterling AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Sterling AK program you select should also provide 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Sterling AK business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Sterling AK colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Sterling AK colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Sterling home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sterling AK, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Sterling Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Sterling Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you perform 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 appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sterling Alaska.