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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Phoenix AZ

How to Select the Right Interior Design College

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Phoenix AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Some potential students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Phoenix AZ

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education 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 work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Phoenix AZ can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Phoenix Arizona interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Phoenix AZ. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered 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 education needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

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 an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

Phoenix Arizona interior designer bathroomAfter you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Phoenix AZ residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field 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 confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Phoenix Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Phoenix AZ program you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction 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 earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Phoenix AZ business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Phoenix AZ colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Phoenix AZ programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Phoenix home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Phoenix Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Phoenix ArizonaSelecting the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phoenix Arizona.