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How to Select the Right Interior Designer College near Litchfield Park Arizona

Litchfield Park Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Litchfield Park AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Litchfield Park AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Litchfield Park AZ interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Litchfield Park AZ. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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 brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 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 Litchfield Park AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools 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 also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Litchfield Park AZ residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Litchfield Park AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Litchfield Park AZ college you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Litchfield Park AZ business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Litchfield Park AZ colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Litchfield Park AZ colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Litchfield Park home, visit the campus and sit in on 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 philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Litchfield Park AZ, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Right Litchfield Park Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Litchfield Park Arizona.