How to Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Coolidge Arizona
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Coolidge 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 receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address those topics 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 class options are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates 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 attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Coolidge AZ may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Coolidge AZ interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Training Programs
There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new profession in Coolidge AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of 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. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest 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 attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally 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 professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Coolidge AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Coolidge AZ residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Coolidge AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Coolidge AZ school you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with 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 received your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Coolidge AZ business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Coolidge AZ schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Coolidge AZ colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Coolidge home, go to the campus and attend a couple of 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Coolidge AZ, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Best Coolidge Interior Design College
Picking the ideal interior designer school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Coolidge Arizona.