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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Oro Valley AZ

How to Select the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will launch their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 choices are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Oro Valley AZ

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, 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 trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Oro Valley AZ can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Oro Valley Arizona interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Oro Valley AZ. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly 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 components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Oro Valley Arizona interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Oro Valley AZ residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive college 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. Below 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 examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Oro Valley Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate 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 college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Oro Valley AZ school you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Oro Valley AZ business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Oro Valley AZ colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Oro Valley AZ programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Oro Valley home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Oro Valley Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Oro Valley ArizonaPicking the ideal interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However 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 effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Oro Valley Arizona.