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How to Find the Best Interior Design School near Cottonwood Arizona

Cottonwood Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Cottonwood AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 options are offered.

Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Cottonwood AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas 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 numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Cottonwood AZ interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Cottonwood AZ. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

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 programs. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic 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 alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you select is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Cottonwood AZ residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Cottonwood AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Cottonwood AZ program you choose should also furnish the appropriate 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Cottonwood AZ business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Cottonwood AZ schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Cottonwood AZ colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cottonwood home, go to 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 styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Enroll in the Right Cottonwood Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottonwood Arizona.