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How to Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Litchfield Park Arizona

Litchfield Park Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Litchfield Park AZ, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final decision. But just where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The main difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general 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 may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, 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 looks as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Litchfield Park AZ interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new career in Litchfield Park AZ. Your choice will no doubt be driven 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 choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Litchfield Park AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Litchfield Park AZ home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you select 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Litchfield Park AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Litchfield Park AZ college you choose should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Litchfield Park AZ business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Litchfield Park AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Litchfield Park AZ programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Litchfield Park home, visit the campus and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask 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, confirm that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Litchfield Park AZ, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Litchfield Park Interior Design Programs

Enroll in the Right Litchfield Park Interior Design College

Choosing the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance 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 appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Litchfield Park Arizona.