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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Fairbanks AK

How to Find the Right Interior Design College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Fairbanks AK, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 class alternatives are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Fairbanks AK

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal 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 areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires 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 residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Fairbanks AK can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate 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 emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Fairbanks Alaska interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Fairbanks AK. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below 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 field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Colleges

Fairbanks AK student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Fairbanks AK homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

After you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Fairbanks AK home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through a demanding assessment 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 exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fairbanks Alaska employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Fairbanks AK college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Fairbanks AK business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Fairbanks AK colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fairbanks AK programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fairbanks home, go to the college 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 styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design School near Fairbanks Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Fairbanks AlaskaPicking the right interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairbanks Alaska.