How to Select the Best Interior Design School near Paradise Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Paradise Valley AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates 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 taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories 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 essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.
There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Paradise Valley AZ interior designers employ 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 launch your new profession in Paradise Valley AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals 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 required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations 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 approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of 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 examination.
Interior Design Online Programs
For students who to study in the convenience of their Paradise Valley AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design programs are within commuting 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 program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Paradise Valley AZ home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing 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 School 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Paradise Valley AZ college you choose should also provide the suitable training 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 College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Paradise Valley AZ business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Paradise Valley AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Paradise Valley home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Paradise Valley AZ, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose in the Best Paradise Valley Interior Design School
Picking the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Paradise Valley Arizona.