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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tucson AZ

How to Pick the Right Interior Designer School

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer 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 commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get 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 preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Tucson AZ

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Tucson AZ can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Tucson Arizona interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new career in Tucson AZ. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree 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 design training 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 enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Tucson Arizona interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Tucson AZ residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. 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 verify 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 available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Tucson Arizona employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Tucson AZ school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training 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 earned your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Tucson AZ business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Tucson AZ colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Tucson AZ programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Tucson home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some 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 Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tucson AZ, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design School near Tucson Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Tucson ArizonaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tucson Arizona.