Interior Designer Degree Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Gilbert Arizona
So it’s time to begin the task of selecting an interior design school near Gilbert AZ now that you have made a career decision to study to be an interior designer. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So in order to analyze and compare each school you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision it's very important that you do the proper due diligence. But just how do you undertake finding the right school? When looking for interior design programs, the majority of students start by zeroing in on those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. There are a number of other qualifications that you should weigh when analyzing schools, for example reputation and accreditation. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
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Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Gilbert AZ can specialize in:
- Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.
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 produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Gilbert AZ interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to begin your new profession in Gilbert AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Design Online Classes
For individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Gilbert AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Gilbert AZ residence. Obviously 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 fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Gilbert AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Gilbert AZ school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be working.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs 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 sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a sizable network of Gilbert AZ business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid offices for the Gilbert AZ schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Gilbert AZ colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Gilbert home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Gilbert Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many 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 regarded in the business. It is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Gilbert Arizona.