How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Paradise Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Paradise Valley AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas 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, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Paradise Valley AZ interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are four degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Paradise Valley AZ. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the convenience of their Paradise Valley AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 as well. 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 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 earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Paradise Valley AZ home. Of course 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 fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous 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 agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Paradise Valley AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Paradise Valley AZ college you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Paradise Valley AZ business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Paradise Valley home, visit the school and attend 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 approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Paradise Valley AZ, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose in the Best Paradise Valley Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Paradise Valley Arizona.