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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tucson AZ

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Tucson AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Some future students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will address those issues and other vital 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Tucson AZ

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Tucson AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an 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 looks as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Tucson Arizona interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Tucson AZ. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Study to 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 selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Tucson AZ residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Tucson Arizona employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Tucson AZ program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Arizona or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a significant network of Tucson AZ business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Tucson AZ schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal 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 schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Tucson home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tucson AZ, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Tucson Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Tucson ArizonaPicking the ideal interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tucson Arizona.