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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program near Green Valley Arizona

Green Valley Arizona interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Green Valley AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Green Valley AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as 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 picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Green Valley AZ interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new career in Green Valley AZ. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced 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 select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam 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 available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions 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 technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the comfort of their Green Valley AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working 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 colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded 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 learning. 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 perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Green Valley AZ residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Green Valley AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Green Valley AZ school you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Green Valley AZ business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Green Valley AZ colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school 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 aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Green Valley AZ programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Green Valley home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk 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 design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Green Valley AZ, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Courses

Choose in the Right Green Valley Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many things to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. 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 appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Green Valley Arizona.