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How to Find the Right Interior Designer College near Cottonwood Arizona

Cottonwood Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Cottonwood AZ, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Cottonwood AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often 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 stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have 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 implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Cottonwood AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally 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 colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Cottonwood AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving 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 minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Cottonwood AZ home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Cottonwood AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate 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 school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Cottonwood AZ program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Cottonwood AZ business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Cottonwood AZ schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cottonwood AZ colleges you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Cottonwood home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Cottonwood Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Right Cottonwood Interior Design School

Choosing the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottonwood Arizona.