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How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Fountain Hills AZ, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas 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 area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Fountain Hills AZ interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in Fountain Hills AZ. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed 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 level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete 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 deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business needed 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 design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Fountain Hills AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online schools 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 reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Fountain Hills AZ residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college 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 also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and school that you select has earned accreditation from 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 recognized 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 applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fountain Hills AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Fountain Hills AZ school you enroll in should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Fountain Hills AZ business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide 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 probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fountain Hills AZ programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Fountain Hills home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Fountain Hills Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fountain Hills Arizona.