How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Fountain Hills Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Fountain Hills AZ, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Some future students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.
Interior Decoration vs Interior Design
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Fountain Hills AZ can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including 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 including Feng shui principles, Fountain Hills AZ interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to launch your new career in Fountain Hills AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt 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 required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job 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. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Fountain Hills AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Fountain Hills AZ residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Fountain Hills AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an exceptional education, the Fountain Hills AZ program you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering 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 college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Fountain Hills AZ business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient 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 ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Interior Design Program
Selecting the right interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fountain Hills Arizona.