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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tucson AZ

How to Find the Best Interior Designer Degree Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Tucson AZ, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers 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 interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Tucson AZ

Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business 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 work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Tucson AZ can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must 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 concepts, Tucson Arizona interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Tucson AZ. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation 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 education required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Tucson 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.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

After you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Tucson AZ residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and college that you select has been accredited by 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Tucson Arizona employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Tucson AZ college you select should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Tucson AZ business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Tucson AZ colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Tucson AZ colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Tucson home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. While there speak 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Tucson AZ, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Tucson Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Tucson ArizonaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. 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 ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tucson Arizona.