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How to Pick the Right Interior Design School near Sterling Alaska

Sterling Alaska interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Sterling AK, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other important 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 class choices are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing 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 educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Sterling AK can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to 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 produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Sterling AK interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Sterling AK. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs 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 business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Sterling AK homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Sterling AK home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should 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 programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Sterling AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require 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 some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Sterling AK school you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements 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 design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing 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 school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Sterling AK business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Sterling AK colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Sterling AK programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Sterling home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Sterling AK, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Sterling Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Sterling Alaska.