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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Anchorage AK

How to Find the Right Interior Designer School

Now that 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 interiors, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial 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 class choices are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Anchorage AK

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Anchorage AK may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Anchorage Alaska interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Anchorage AK. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose 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. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed 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 Programs

After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing 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 a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Anchorage Alaska employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Anchorage AK school you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Anchorage AK business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Anchorage AK schools you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Anchorage AK colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Anchorage home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important 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, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Anchorage Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Anchorage AlaskaChoosing the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.