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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Phoenix AZ

How to Select the Best Interior Designer School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Phoenix AZ, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital 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 just where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 class options are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Phoenix AZ

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Phoenix AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally 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 stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Phoenix Arizona interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Phoenix AZ. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed 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 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

What to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Phoenix Arizona interior designer bathroomWhen you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Phoenix AZ residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Phoenix Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Phoenix AZ program you enroll in should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at 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 school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Phoenix AZ business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Phoenix AZ schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Phoenix AZ schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Phoenix home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Phoenix Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Phoenix ArizonaSelecting the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phoenix Arizona.