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How to Pick the Best Interior Designer College near Litchfield Park Arizona

Litchfield Park Arizona interior designed living roomNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Litchfield Park AZ, it's time to begin 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 receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of 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 very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Litchfield Park AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly 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 concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Litchfield Park AZ interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Litchfield Park AZ. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed 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 furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 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 several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Litchfield Park AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a great 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 many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Litchfield Park AZ home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation 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 organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Litchfield Park AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get 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 work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Litchfield Park AZ college you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Litchfield Park AZ business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Litchfield Park AZ colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Litchfield Park AZ schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Litchfield Park home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Litchfield Park AZ, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Litchfield Park Interior Design School

Selecting the ideal interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Litchfield Park Arizona.