Interior Designer School
How to Enroll in the Best One Near Flagstaff Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. It's imperative that you get the best available training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing residential or commercial interiors. And since interior designers are licensed in a number of states, the college you choose should prepare you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the necessary training for your specialty. So it's vital you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? When checking out interior design programs, many potential students begin by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. But keep in mind, a school is not always the right choice simply because it happens to have a campus near your home or is lower in cost. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other vital 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 offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The key difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Flagstaff AZ may specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Flagstaff AZ interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Design Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new career in Flagstaff 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 no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose 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. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at many Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.
Online Interior Design Colleges
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Flagstaff AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you choose is accredited by a respected 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 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 alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Flagstaff AZ residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the least expensive 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 consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry 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 teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Flagstaff AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Flagstaff AZ school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Flagstaff AZ business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Flagstaff AZ schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Flagstaff AZ schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Flagstaff home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy 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 Flagstaff AZ, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Flagstaff Interior Design College
Selecting the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Flagstaff Arizona.