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How to Choose the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Catalina AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Catalina AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. 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 bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design 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 Degrees

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new career in Catalina AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the convenience of their Catalina AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Catalina AZ home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. 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 a rigorous evaluation 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 exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Catalina AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Catalina AZ college you choose should also furnish the proper instruction 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? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Catalina AZ business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Catalina AZ schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Catalina AZ programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Catalina home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Catalina AZ, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Catalina Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Catalina Arizona.