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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near San Tan Valley AZ

How to Choose the Best Interior Design College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final selection. But where do you start? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at 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 Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in San Tan Valley AZ

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together 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 frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus primarily 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 various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, San Tan Valley Arizona interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in San Tan Valley AZ. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree 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 alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want 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 adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

San Tan Valley 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your San Tan Valley AZ home. Obviously 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 cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate 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 earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. 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 teachers. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many San Tan Valley Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the San Tan Valley AZ school you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing 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 held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of San Tan Valley AZ business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the San Tan Valley AZ colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining 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 college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts 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 limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the San Tan Valley AZ colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your San Tan Valley home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

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

interior designed kitchen in San Tan Valley ArizonaSelecting the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things 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 esteemed in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in San Tan Valley Arizona.