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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Anchorage AK

How to Pick the Right Interior Design 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 talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Anchorage AK

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill 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 and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Anchorage AK can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to 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 principles, Anchorage Alaska interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Anchorage AK. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions 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 technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide 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. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish 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 professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Colleges

Anchorage AK student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the convenience of their Anchorage AK homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want 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. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to verify 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 a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Anchorage Alaska employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Anchorage AK college you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction 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 School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Anchorage AK business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Anchorage AK colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Anchorage AK programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Anchorage home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Anchorage AK, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Anchorage Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Anchorage AlaskaSelecting the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Anchorage Alaska.