How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Fountain Hills Arizona
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Fountain Hills AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.
Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business 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 work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Fountain Hills AZ may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Fountain Hills AZ interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Fountain Hills AZ. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered 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 provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five 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 some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the comfort of their Fountain Hills AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Fountain Hills AZ residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fountain Hills AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Fountain Hills AZ college you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Fountain Hills AZ business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Fountain Hills AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Fountain Hills home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Interior Design Program
Selecting the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. 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 final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fountain Hills Arizona.