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How to Choose the Best Interior Design College near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Catalina AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges 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. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account 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 class options are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Catalina AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need 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 principles, Catalina AZ interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Catalina AZ. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives 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, 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 several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Catalina AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected 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 learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Catalina AZ residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Catalina AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Catalina AZ school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Catalina AZ business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Catalina AZ schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Catalina AZ colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Catalina home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Catalina AZ, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Catalina Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Best Catalina Interior Design Program

Picking the ideal interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Catalina Arizona.