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How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Catalina AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 training choices are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Catalina AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus 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, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Catalina AZ interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Catalina AZ. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose 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 covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate 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 achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Catalina AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Catalina AZ home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. 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 outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Catalina AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Catalina AZ school you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona 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 no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Catalina AZ business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Catalina AZ colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Catalina AZ programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Catalina home, visit the campus and sit in on a few 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 backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Catalina AZ, 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, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Catalina Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Catalina Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Catalina Arizona.