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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Catalina AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Catalina AZ can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Catalina AZ interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new profession in Catalina AZ. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Catalina AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting 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 decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially 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 able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Catalina AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate 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 work experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Catalina AZ school you select should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs 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 school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Catalina AZ business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Catalina AZ schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Catalina AZ schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Catalina home, go to the college and attend a few classes. While there talk with some 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Catalina AZ, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Catalina Interior Design Schools

Choose in the Best Catalina Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a course, program 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 important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Catalina Arizona.