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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Phoenix AZ

How to Find the Best Interior Design Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Phoenix AZ

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Phoenix AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an 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 looks as the main consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Phoenix Arizona interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Phoenix AZ. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical 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 position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary 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 require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Phoenix AZ student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Phoenix AZ home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Phoenix Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Phoenix AZ school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Phoenix AZ business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Phoenix AZ colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Phoenix AZ schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Phoenix home, go to the school 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 approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Phoenix Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Phoenix ArizonaChoosing the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phoenix Arizona.