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How to Select the Best Interior Design Degree Program near Coolidge Arizona

Coolidge Arizona interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Coolidge AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business 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 living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Coolidge AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate primarily 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Coolidge AZ interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new profession in Coolidge AZ. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student 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 achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance 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 university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Coolidge AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Coolidge AZ home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Coolidge AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate 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 several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Coolidge 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask 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 students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Coolidge AZ business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Coolidge AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain 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. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Coolidge AZ schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Coolidge home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active 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 Coolidge AZ, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Coolidge Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Coolidge Arizona.