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How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Paradise Valley Arizona

Paradise Valley Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerOnce you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school 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 residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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 available.

Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

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

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 looks as the primary concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Paradise Valley AZ interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Degrees

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There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Paradise Valley AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Arizona vocational schools and community 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 cover the technical and creative components 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 job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Paradise Valley AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving 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 minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn 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 setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

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Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Paradise Valley AZ home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Paradise Valley AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Paradise Valley AZ school you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Paradise Valley AZ business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Paradise Valley home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Paradise Valley AZ, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Courses

Enroll in the Right Paradise Valley Interior Design School

Picking the ideal interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges 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.