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How to Select the Right Interior Design College near Coolidge Arizona

Coolidge Arizona interior designed living room with viewOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Coolidge AZ, it's time to begin 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 receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to 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 interested in 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 choices are available.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Coolidge AZ can 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 specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including 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, Coolidge AZ interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in Coolidge AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits 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 needed to enter the field. They take roughly 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 positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • 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 typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Coolidge AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs 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 setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Coolidge AZ home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Coolidge AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Coolidge AZ college you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Coolidge AZ business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Coolidge AZ schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Coolidge AZ schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Coolidge home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Coolidge AZ, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Coolidge Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Coolidge Arizona.