Interior Designer Program
How to Choose the Right One Near Fairbanks Alaska
Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Fairbanks AK, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. It's imperative that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to analyze and compare each college you are reviewing before you make your final decision it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 choices are available.
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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Fairbanks AK can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must 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 concepts, Fairbanks AK interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Fairbanks AK. Your choice will no doubt 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 opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things 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 degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Courses
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Fairbanks AK homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Fairbanks AK home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain 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 confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fairbanks AK employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Fairbanks AK college you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Fairbanks AK business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Fairbanks AK schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fairbanks AK colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Fairbanks home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Interior Design College
Choosing the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairbanks Alaska.