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How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Paradise Valley Arizona

Paradise Valley Arizona interior designed living room with viewNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Paradise Valley AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 choices are offered.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Paradise Valley AZ interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Programs

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new career in Paradise Valley AZ. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose 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 required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to attend classes in the comfort of their Paradise Valley AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Attending classes online can be an excellent 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 many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Paradise Valley AZ home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Paradise Valley AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Paradise Valley AZ program you enroll in should also provide the suitable education 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 earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Paradise Valley AZ business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Paradise Valley AZ colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Paradise Valley home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Paradise Valley AZ, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Best Paradise Valley Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several things to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Paradise Valley Arizona.