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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Anchorage AK

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Anchorage AK, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? Many future students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Anchorage AK

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many 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 areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Anchorage AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. 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 concepts, Anchorage Alaska interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new profession in Anchorage AK. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

Anchorage AK student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Anchorage AK homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working 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 a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within driving 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 may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Anchorage Alaska employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Anchorage AK program you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Anchorage AK business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Anchorage AK colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Anchorage AK colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Anchorage home, visit the college and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Anchorage Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Anchorage AlaskaChoosing the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.