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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Oro Valley AZ

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Course

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other important 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 alternatives are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Oro Valley AZ

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Oro Valley AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Oro Valley Arizona interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Oro Valley AZ. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation 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 needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade required 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 furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Schools

Oro Valley AZ student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the comfort of their Oro Valley AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. 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 sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Oro Valley AZ residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation 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 organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Oro Valley Arizona employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Oro Valley AZ program you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools 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 sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a substantial network of Oro Valley AZ business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Oro Valley AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Oro Valley AZ schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Oro Valley home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Design School near Oro Valley Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Oro Valley ArizonaChoosing the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oro Valley Arizona.