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How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Catalina AZ, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the proper 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 could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Catalina AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Catalina AZ interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Catalina AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at many Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Catalina AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Catalina AZ residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive 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 also, such as the accreditation and reputation 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 examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Catalina AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Catalina AZ program you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing 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 held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Catalina AZ business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Catalina AZ schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Catalina AZ colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Catalina home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Catalina AZ, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Best Catalina Interior Design College

Picking the right interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Catalina Arizona.