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How to Find the Best Interior Design Program near Paradise Valley Arizona

Paradise Valley Arizona interior designed living room with entertainment centerNow that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program 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 interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your skills 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 as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Some future students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration 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 options are available.

Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

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Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education 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 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 may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Paradise Valley AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training 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 usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience 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 challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

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Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Paradise Valley AZ residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid 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 colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. 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 college you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Paradise Valley AZ business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Paradise Valley AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Paradise Valley AZ programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Paradise Valley home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially 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, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Paradise Valley Interior Design Programs

Choose in the Right Paradise Valley Interior Design Program

Selecting the right interior design school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Paradise Valley Arizona.