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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Anchorage AK

How to Find the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design 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 commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics 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 available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Anchorage AK

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Anchorage AK can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Anchorage Alaska interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Anchorage AK. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Study to Become 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Anchorage AK home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Anchorage Alaska employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Anchorage AK college you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Anchorage AK business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Anchorage AK schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools 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 essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Anchorage AK programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Anchorage home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night 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 alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Anchorage Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Anchorage AlaskaSelecting the right interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential 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 effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.