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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow 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 interiors, it's important that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key 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, doing 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 living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Fountain Hills AZ can 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, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly 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 hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Fountain Hills AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral 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 usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the convenience of their Fountain Hills AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to 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 option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Fountain Hills AZ residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Fountain Hills AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Fountain Hills AZ college you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Fountain Hills AZ business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Fountain Hills AZ colleges you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fountain Hills home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Fountain Hills Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Right Fountain Hills Interior Design School

Choosing the right interior design college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fountain Hills Arizona.