Interior Designer Program
How to Choose the Right One Near Maricopa Arizona
So it’s time to start the task of choosing an interior design school near Maricopa AZ once you have made a career decision to become an interior designer. It's important that you get the appropriate training to develop your skills, even if you have always had a knack for designing commercial or residential interiors. And because interior designers must be licensed in a number of states, the school you select should prep you to pass any required licensing exam as well as provide the proper training for your specialty. So it's crucial you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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
Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and vice versa. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting 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 educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Maricopa AZ may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Maricopa AZ interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Maricopa AZ. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized 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 want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.
In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Schools
For anyone wishing' to study in the convenience of their Maricopa AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal alternative for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Maricopa AZ residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below 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 compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Maricopa AZ employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Maricopa AZ college you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Maricopa AZ business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Maricopa AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Maricopa AZ schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Maricopa home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.
Choose the Best Maricopa Interior Design School
Choosing the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. It is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Maricopa Arizona.