How to Choose an Interior Design College near Palmer Alaska
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Palmer AK, it’s time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it’s essential that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it’s vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let’s talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator in Palmer AK if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor’s or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers in Palmer AK often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, Palmer AK designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design in Palmer AK that a designer must learn, for example 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 selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide 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) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered near Palmer AK.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Palmer AK area community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed 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 provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Designer Online Colleges
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no Palmer AK area interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your Palmer AK area school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It’s imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Palmer AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of states do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those states calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Palmer AK college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be employed.
What is the Program’s Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Palmer AK area business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of Palmer AK area interior designer schools provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Palmer AK schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the Palmer AK interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Ideal Interior Designer Program near Palmer AlaskaChoosing the right interior designer school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many things 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 esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer.
Some Additional Cities of Interest in Alaska