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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Fairbanks AK

How to Find the Best Interior Design College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Fairbanks AK, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require 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 essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk 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 Fairbanks AK

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Fairbanks 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 the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Fairbanks Alaska interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Fairbanks AK. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects 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 two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Fairbanks 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 designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Fairbanks AK residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Fairbanks Alaska employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Fairbanks AK program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. 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 higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Fairbanks AK business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Fairbanks AK schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fairbanks AK colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Fairbanks home, visit the school and monitor 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 approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Fairbanks Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Fairbanks AlaskaPicking the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairbanks Alaska.