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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near San Tan Valley AZ

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer College

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs 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 taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other important 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 choices are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in San Tan Valley AZ

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in San Tan Valley AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, San Tan Valley Arizona interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in San Tan Valley AZ. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Arizona vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets 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 two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized 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. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Colleges

San Tan Valley AZ student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the comfort of their San Tan Valley AZ homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your San Tan Valley AZ residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. 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 undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm 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, a number of San Tan Valley Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the San Tan Valley AZ school you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of San Tan Valley AZ business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the San Tan Valley AZ schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the San Tan Valley AZ colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your San Tan Valley home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Design College near San Tan Valley Arizona

interior designed kitchen in San Tan Valley ArizonaChoosing the right interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in San Tan Valley Arizona.