How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Fountain Hills Arizona
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Fountain Hills 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 spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Some potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 alternatives are offered.
Interior Decoration and Interior Design
Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Fountain Hills AZ may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of 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 concern.
There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Fountain Hills AZ interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Training Programs
There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Fountain Hills AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for 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. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices 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. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five 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 some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Fountain Hills AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges 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 commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. 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 schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
When you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Fountain Hills AZ home. Naturally 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 fee for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fountain Hills AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Fountain Hills AZ college you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Fountain Hills AZ business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Fountain Hills AZ colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Fountain Hills home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, make sure 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, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Choose in the Best Fountain Hills Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fountain Hills Arizona.