How to Pick the Right Interior Design College near Cottonwood Arizona
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Cottonwood AZ, it's time to begin 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 receive the appropriate 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 may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables 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 discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting 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 trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Cottonwood AZ may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example 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 selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Cottonwood AZ interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Cottonwood AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply 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 minimum credential 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 design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience 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 busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed 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 schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Cottonwood AZ residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house 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 few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 might also help when applying for 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 Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Cottonwood AZ program you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Cottonwood AZ business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Cottonwood AZ schools you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Cottonwood AZ colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Cottonwood home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Cottonwood Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Cottonwood Arizona.