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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 decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Paradise Valley AZ, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will address those issues 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Paradise Valley AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • 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 banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degree Options

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There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Paradise Valley AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver 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 lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to study in the comfort of their Paradise Valley AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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After you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Paradise Valley AZ residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design program and college 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 gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program 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 training are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Paradise Valley AZ employers will only hire 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 become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Paradise Valley AZ program you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Paradise Valley AZ business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Paradise Valley AZ colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Paradise Valley AZ programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Paradise Valley home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Paradise Valley AZ, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Learn More About Online Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Best Paradise Valley Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Paradise Valley Arizona.