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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Phoenix AZ

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer School

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Phoenix AZ, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you begin? Some future students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Phoenix AZ

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general 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 residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Phoenix AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Phoenix Arizona interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Phoenix AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have 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 take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish 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 obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use 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 called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Classes

Phoenix AZ student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Phoenix AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Phoenix AZ home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. 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 undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Phoenix Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Phoenix AZ school you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Phoenix AZ business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Phoenix AZ colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Phoenix AZ colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Phoenix home, go to the school and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Phoenix Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Phoenix ArizonaPicking the right interior design program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phoenix Arizona.