Interior Designer School
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Fairbanks Alaska
So it’s time to begin the process of selecting an interior design school near Fairbanks AK now that you have made a career choice to study to be an interior designer. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And because interior designers are licensed in several states, the school you select should prepare you to pass any required licensing test as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So in order to evaluate and compare each college you are looking at before you make your final selection it's vital that you do the appropriate research. But exactly where do you start? When checking out interior design schools, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. However, a school is not always the right option just because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. There are several other qualifications that you should evaluate when analyzing schools, such as accreditation and reputation. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Fairbanks AK can 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, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Fairbanks AK interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to start your new profession in Fairbanks AK. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed 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 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Courses
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Fairbanks AK homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. 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 ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Fairbanks AK home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from 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 an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Fairbanks AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Fairbanks AK school you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Fairbanks AK business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Fairbanks AK colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fairbanks AK schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Fairbanks home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Learn More About Becoming an Interior Designer in Fairbanks
Choose the Right Fairbanks Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. It is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairbanks Alaska.
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