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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near San Tan Valley AZ

How to Find the Best Interior Designer School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But where do you start? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking 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 training options are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in San Tan Valley AZ

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in San Tan Valley AZ can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, San Tan Valley Arizona interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new career in San Tan Valley AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives 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 mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two 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 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training 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 improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university 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", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

San Tan Valley Arizona interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your San Tan Valley AZ home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of San Tan Valley Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the San Tan Valley AZ program you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools 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 an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of San Tan Valley AZ business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the San Tan Valley AZ colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the San Tan Valley AZ schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your San Tan Valley home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near San Tan Valley Arizona

interior designed kitchen in San Tan Valley ArizonaSelecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs 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 San Tan Valley Arizona.