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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tucson AZ

How to Find the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Tucson AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities 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 as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics 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 class alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Tucson AZ

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Tucson AZ can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal 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 focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Tucson AZ. Your selection will no doubt be influenced 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 certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Arizona trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional 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 an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

Tucson Arizona interior designer bathroomOnce you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Tucson AZ home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may 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 School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Tucson AZ program you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction 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? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Tucson AZ business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Tucson AZ colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining 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 program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Tucson AZ programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Tucson home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Tucson AZ, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Tucson Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Tucson ArizonaChoosing the right interior design college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tucson Arizona.