Interior Designer Degree
How to Find the Best One Near Anchorage Alaska
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Anchorage 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 interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? When checking out interior design programs, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the right choice just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit about the degree and training alternatives are offered.
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Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Anchorage AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For students who to study in the comfort of their Anchorage AK homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you pick 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 learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Anchorage AK home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Anchorage AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep 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 college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Anchorage AK college you select should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements 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 support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Anchorage AK business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Anchorage AK colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Anchorage AK colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Anchorage home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose the Right Anchorage Interior Design School
Selecting the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.