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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Anchorage AK

How to Select the Right Interior Designer Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Anchorage AK, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Anchorage AK

Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Anchorage AK can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Anchorage Alaska interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Anchorage 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 opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 achieving the 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally 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 colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Anchorage Alaska interior designer bathroomWhen you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Anchorage AK residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Anchorage Alaska employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Anchorage AK college you select should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, 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 field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Anchorage AK business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Anchorage AK colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller 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 Anchorage AK programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Anchorage home, visit the college and monitor 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 styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Anchorage AK, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Anchorage Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Anchorage AlaskaPicking the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.