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How to Choose the Right Interior Design College near Cottonwood Arizona

Cottonwood Arizona interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Cottonwood AZ, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate 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 as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Cottonwood AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Cottonwood AZ interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new profession in Cottonwood 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 no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several 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. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt 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 professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Cottonwood AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain 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 college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Cottonwood AZ home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Cottonwood AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Cottonwood AZ school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Cottonwood AZ business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

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

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Cottonwood AZ schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Cottonwood home, go to the campus and sit in on 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 styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will 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 attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Cottonwood Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Cottonwood Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottonwood Arizona.