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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Anchorage AK

How to Select the Right Interior Design College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Anchorage AK, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Anchorage AK

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires 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 trained to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Anchorage AK can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Anchorage Alaska interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new career in Anchorage AK. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. 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 cover the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student 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 acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want 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 adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

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.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

After you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Anchorage AK home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment 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 agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Anchorage Alaska employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Anchorage AK school you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Anchorage AK business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Anchorage AK schools you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Anchorage AK programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Anchorage home, go to the campus and monitor a few 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? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Design College near Anchorage Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Anchorage AlaskaPicking the ideal interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.