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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Fairbanks AK

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program

Now that you have decided 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 interiors, it's important that you receive the right 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 may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Fairbanks AK

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Fairbanks AK can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, 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 concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Fairbanks Alaska interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Fairbanks AK. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Alaska community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees 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 normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

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 Design Schools

Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Fairbanks AK residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges 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 imperative to verify that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for 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 programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Fairbanks AK school you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alaska or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Fairbanks AK business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Fairbanks AK schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Fairbanks AK colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fairbanks home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Fairbanks Alaska

interior designed kitchen in Fairbanks AlaskaChoosing the right interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest 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 ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fairbanks Alaska.