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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Tucson AZ

How to Pick the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Tucson AZ, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools 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. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask 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 choices are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Tucson AZ

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Tucson AZ may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often 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, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Tucson Arizona interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession in Tucson AZ. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives 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 pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many Arizona community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Colleges

Tucson AZ student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to study in the convenience of their Tucson AZ homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus must be within driving distance from your Tucson AZ home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools 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 organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Tucson Arizona employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an outstanding education, the Tucson AZ program you select should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College'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 reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Tucson AZ business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Tucson AZ colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is important 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 aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Tucson AZ schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Tucson home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out 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 certain that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tucson AZ, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Tucson Arizona

interior designed kitchen in Tucson ArizonaPicking the ideal interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify 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 rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Tucson Arizona.