Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Choose the Right One Near Flagstaff Arizona
So it’s time to begin the task of selecting an interior design school near Flagstaff AZ now that you have made a career decision to study to be an interior designer. It's important 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 school you choose should prepare you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the proper training for your specialty. So it's vital you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just how do you go about enrolling in the right program? When looking for interior design schools, many potential students start by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. However, a school is not always the right choice just because it has the lowest tuition or is located closest to your home. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will discuss 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 options are offered.
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Interior Design Compared to Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Flagstaff AZ can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design 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 contribute to their ultimate designs.
Interior Design Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new profession in Flagstaff AZ. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things 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 primarily 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.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Flagstaff AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Flagstaff AZ residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions 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 choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Flagstaff AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get 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 calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Flagstaff AZ program you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements 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 probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Flagstaff AZ business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Flagstaff AZ colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Flagstaff AZ schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Flagstaff home, go to the college and monitor 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 backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Flagstaff Interior Design School
Choosing the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. 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 schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Flagstaff Arizona.