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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tempe AZ

How to Pick the Right Interior Design College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Tempe AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since several 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 very important that you perform the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Tempe AZ

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training 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 areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Tempe AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, 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 main concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Tempe Arizona interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Tempe AZ. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required 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 offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Colleges

Tempe AZ student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Tempe AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the school you select is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Tempe AZ home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Tempe Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Tempe AZ school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Tempe AZ business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Tempe AZ colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Tempe AZ colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Tempe home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tempe AZ, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Tempe Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Tempe ArizonaChoosing the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several points to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tempe Arizona.