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How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Fountain Hills AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The principal distinction 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 areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Fountain Hills AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus 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, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Fountain Hills AZ interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Fountain Hills AZ. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth 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 degree 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 achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Fountain Hills AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Fountain Hills AZ residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors 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 education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Fountain Hills AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Fountain Hills AZ college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Fountain Hills AZ business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Fountain Hills AZ colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Fountain Hills AZ colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fountain Hills home, go to the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Interior Design College

Selecting the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fountain Hills Arizona.