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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Catalina Foothills AZ

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Catalina Foothills AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Catalina Foothills AZ

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Catalina Foothills AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally 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 focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Catalina Foothills Arizona interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Catalina Foothills AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects 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 job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally 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 professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Designer Degree Programs

Catalina Foothills AZ student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Catalina Foothills AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to 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 colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire 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 Designer Programs

Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Catalina Foothills AZ home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program 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 training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Catalina Foothills Arizona employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Catalina Foothills AZ program you select should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Catalina Foothills AZ business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Catalina Foothills AZ programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Catalina Foothills home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program near Catalina Foothills Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Catalina Foothills ArizonaChoosing the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided 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 quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Catalina Foothills Arizona.