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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Phoenix AZ

How to Select the Right Interior Designer Course

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Phoenix AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices 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 distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories 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 basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Phoenix Arizona interior designers utilize 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 needed to start your new profession in Phoenix AZ. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter 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 required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business 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 the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Colleges

Phoenix AZ student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Phoenix AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Phoenix AZ home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers 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 verify 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 available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Phoenix Arizona employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Phoenix AZ college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Phoenix AZ business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Phoenix AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Phoenix AZ schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Phoenix home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Phoenix Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Phoenix ArizonaPicking the ideal interior designer program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But 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 ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Phoenix Arizona.