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

Paradise Valley Arizona interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Paradise Valley AZ, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas 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 essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Paradise Valley AZ. Your choice will no doubt be influenced 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 opt to enroll in, be 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 some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use 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 required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to study in the comfort of their Paradise Valley AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative 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 a number of students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Paradise Valley AZ home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national 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 gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Paradise Valley AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Paradise Valley AZ school you enroll in should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication 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 place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Paradise Valley AZ programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Paradise Valley home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure 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 attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening 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 as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Schools

Enroll in the Best Paradise Valley Interior Design Program

Picking the right interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Paradise Valley Arizona.