How to Pick the Right Interior Designer College near Douglas Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Douglas AZ, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Douglas AZ can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Douglas AZ interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Douglas AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically 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, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Douglas AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Douglas AZ residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Douglas AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Douglas AZ college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction 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? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Douglas AZ business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Douglas AZ schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Douglas AZ programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Douglas home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Douglas AZ, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Douglas Interior Design College
Picking the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive 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 business. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Douglas Arizona.