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How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Course near Paradise Valley Arizona

Paradise Valley Arizona interior designed living room with viewOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Paradise Valley 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 interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Decoration and Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Paradise Valley AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality 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 hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Paradise Valley AZ interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.

Interior Design Training Programs

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Paradise Valley AZ. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated 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 supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at many Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four 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 minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Paradise Valley AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Paradise Valley AZ home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college 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 obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Paradise Valley AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Paradise Valley AZ school you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing 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 designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Paradise Valley AZ business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Paradise Valley AZ colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Paradise Valley home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Paradise Valley AZ, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Best Paradise Valley Interior Design College

Choosing the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Paradise Valley Arizona.