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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Anchorage AK

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer College

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Anchorage AK, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Anchorage AK

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Anchorage AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often focus 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as 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 principles, Anchorage Alaska interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Anchorage AK. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Do You Want to Be an Interior Designer?

Anchorage AK student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Anchorage AK home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College 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 organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Anchorage Alaska employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional 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 want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Anchorage AK business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Anchorage AK schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Anchorage AK schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Anchorage home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there 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 designer school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Anchorage Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Anchorage AlaskaPicking the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.