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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near El Mirage AZ

How to Select the Right Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near El Mirage AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, 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 Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in El Mirage AZ

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in El Mirage AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of 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 concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, El Mirage Arizona interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new career in El Mirage AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

El Mirage Arizona interior designer bathroomNow that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your El Mirage AZ home. Of course 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 cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college 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 exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many El Mirage Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the El Mirage AZ program you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a sizable network of El Mirage AZ business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the El Mirage AZ colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small 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 El Mirage AZ programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your El Mirage home, go to the school and attend a few classes. While there speak 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? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near El Mirage Arizona

interior designed kitchen in El Mirage ArizonaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. 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 colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in El Mirage Arizona.