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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Fairbanks AK

How to Select the Best Interior Design Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Fairbanks AK

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Fairbanks AK may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically 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 can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new profession in Fairbanks AK. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Alaska trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral 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 typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

Fairbanks Alaska interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Fairbanks AK home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid 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 Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get 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 some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Fairbanks AK college you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask 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 trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Fairbanks AK business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Fairbanks AK schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fairbanks AK programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fairbanks home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairbanks 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, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Fairbanks Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Fairbanks AlaskaPicking the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided 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 quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairbanks Alaska.