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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 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 essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? Some potential students will begin 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 are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account 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 first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in San Tan Valley AZ

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in San Tan Valley AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in San Tan Valley AZ. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

San Tan Valley AZ student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their San Tan Valley AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Attending classes online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you select is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your San Tan Valley AZ residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national 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 gone through 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many San Tan Valley Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the San Tan Valley AZ program you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of San Tan Valley AZ business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the San Tan Valley AZ colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the San Tan Valley AZ programs you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your San Tan Valley home, go to the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near San Tan Valley Arizona

interior designed kitchen in San Tan Valley ArizonaPicking the ideal interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in San Tan Valley Arizona.