Interior Designer College
How to Choose the Right One Near Anchorage Alaska
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Anchorage AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. It's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And since interior designers must be licensed in several states, the college you select should prepare you to pass any required licensing test and provide the proper training for your specialty. So in order to assess and compare each school you are reviewing prior to making your final selection it's vital that you do the appropriate due diligence. But just how do you go about enrolling in the right school? When looking for interior design schools, the majority of students start by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the best choice just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 available.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Anchorage AK may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Anchorage AK interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Anchorage AK. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take 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 supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things 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 desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Degree Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Anchorage AK homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select 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 learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Anchorage AK home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Anchorage AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam 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 also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Anchorage AK college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing 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 designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Anchorage AK business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Anchorage AK colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Anchorage AK programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Anchorage home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Anchorage Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. It is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.