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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Catalina AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Catalina AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Catalina AZ interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Catalina AZ. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining 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 mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Catalina AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Catalina AZ home. Naturally 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 fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Catalina AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Catalina AZ college you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Catalina AZ business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Catalina AZ colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Catalina AZ programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Catalina home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant 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 working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Catalina Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Catalina Interior Design College

Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Catalina Arizona.