How to Become an Interior Designer in Alaska
Do you have an appreciation for beautifully arranged spaces? Perhaps you have had experience helping friends plan a home renovation. These are aspects of interior design—a discipline most people encounter daily but many don’t fully understand. Interior designers are responsible for the aesthetics, comfort, and safety and legal compliance of indoor spaces, so training to be an interior designer can be a multi-faceted and rewarding pursuit.
Requirements for Becoming an Interior Designer in Alaska
In Alaska, the practice of interior design is not regulated by the state, but there are requirements for membership in professional organizations, such as the Alaska chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). ASID offers membership to students, those with formal degrees in interior design, those who have passed a national exam and interior designers with extensive professional experience in the field. Since there is a lot of responsibility placed on interior designers to create safe, usable spaces and because interior design is often a significant portion of a project’s budget, it is a good idea to seek training from qualified professionals before embarking on this career, even if it is not strictly required.
Educational Options for Studying Interior Design in Alaska
If you want to study interior design while living in Alaska, you will need to look at online programs. Fortunately, there are many well-regarded programs available. The Council for Interior Design Accreditation recommends several online programs of study for interior design.
- Penn Foster College. Penn Foster offers a flexible online associate’s degree program recognized by the NCIDQ. They offer monthly payment options and advertise a very reasonable average cost of $79 per credit hour.
- The Academy of Art University. At The Academy of Art University you can earn a professional certificate, an associate’s degree or a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design. Total undergraduate expenses are about $25,000 for a full-time student, but financial aid is available.
- The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Here, you can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design or a Diploma in Residential Planning, a shorter program for those seeking professional training but not an academic degree. The BS has an estimated cost of around $93,000, and the diploma program is priced around $19,000.
Interior Design Certification in Alaska
Though not a requirement, professional certification is a wise investment. Certification can reassure clients and will prove to potential employers that you are a qualified practitioner in your field. It tells those you work with that you are up-to-date on current environmental, safety and accessibility standards, and can ensure compliance for their organization or business.
The Council for Interior Design Qualification offers NCIDQ testing for interior designers at several levels of education, who have also completed the requisite supervised work hour. You should review these testing requirements before choosing a program, to make sure you are pursuing the best option for your personal needs. While your coursework may be completed online, you may want to begin your supervised work hours while you are still in school, so you might need to consider relocating, at least temporarily, to be closer to the design firm or agency where you will be earning those hours.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Interior Designers in Alaska
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop, interior designers in Alaska earn a median annual salary of $56,970, but this can vary by specialization and experience.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 4 percent growth rate for interior design jobs between 2016 and 2026.
Working as an Interior Designer in Alaska
Alaska’s booming tourism industry can be expected to support work for Alaskan interior designers in lodging and other hospitality-related facilities. Since eco-tourism is a particularly popular niche for Alaskan tourism, LEED certification may be useful for helping businesses demonstrate their earth-friendly credentials.
Cruises are also big business in Alaska. Designing interiors of cruise ships to make the most of limited space while ensuring a safe and luxurious voyage presents a unique set of challenges for an ambitious interior designer.
Already a major player in the Alaskan economy, the U.S. military will be expanding its presence in upcoming years, providing more opportunities for interior designers, particularly those well-versed in universal design, which is meant to accommodate users of all ages and abilities.
ASID is a great resource for mentorship and guidance regarding continuing education opportunities and a good way to look for job opportunities with agencies in good standing with the interior design community. When embarking on your career as an interior designer in Alaska, consider whether you would like to focus on the public or private sector, and if you would like to specialize in visual aesthetics, accessibility, environmental impact or another aspect of this complex field.
How much do interior designers earn in the state of Alaska?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, interior designers in the state of Alaska made an average of $69,280 per year in 2019. Entry-level interior designers earned around $52,880 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $86,750.