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How to Select the Best Interior Design College near Paradise Valley Arizona

Paradise Valley Arizona interior designed living roomOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer 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 commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.

Interior Design and Interior Decoration

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Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates 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 attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Paradise Valley AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. 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 integrating Feng shui principles, Paradise Valley AZ interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.

Interior Designer Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Paradise Valley AZ. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select 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 covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with 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 the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized 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 primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required 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 online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Paradise Valley AZ residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college 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 employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become 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, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Paradise Valley AZ program you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. 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 high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed 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 contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Paradise Valley AZ programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Paradise Valley home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Paradise Valley AZ, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Learn More About Paradise Valley Interior Design Degrees

Choose in the Right Paradise Valley Interior Design School

Picking the right interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. 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 schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Paradise Valley Arizona.