Interior Designer School
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Anchorage Alaska
So it’s time to start the process of choosing an interior design school near Anchorage AK now that you have made a career choice to become an interior designer. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And because interior designers are licensed in a number of states, the college you select should prepare you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's crucial you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? When checking out interior design programs, many potential students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the right option just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Anchorage AK can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Anchorage AK interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Anchorage AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance 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 college or university 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 schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Anchorage AK homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, 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 online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Anchorage AK residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below 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 in order to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Anchorage AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Anchorage AK school you choose should also furnish the proper 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Anchorage AK business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Anchorage AK schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Anchorage AK schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Anchorage home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy 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 Anchorage AK, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Learn More About Studying to Become an Interior Designer in Anchorage
Choose the Right Anchorage Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.
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