How to Find the Best Interior Designer College near Cottonwood Arizona
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Cottonwood AZ, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 options are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction 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 areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Cottonwood 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 a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily 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 emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Cottonwood AZ interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
Interior Designer Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new career in Cottonwood AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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 mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving 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. Doctorate 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 usually completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Cottonwood AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical 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 additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Cottonwood AZ home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Cottonwood AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Cottonwood AZ college you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at 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 school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Cottonwood AZ business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Cottonwood AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Cottonwood AZ programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Cottonwood home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.
Choose in the Right Cottonwood Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior design school is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottonwood Arizona.