How to Select an Interior Designer Program near Phoenix Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Phoenix AZ, it’s time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it’s essential that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it’s vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you begin? Many future students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are available.
Interior Design and Interior Decoration
Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator in Phoenix AZ if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. 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 areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers in Phoenix AZ typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
- Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, Phoenix AZ designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design in Phoenix AZ that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must 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, interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
Interior Design Degree Options
There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to begin your new profession. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered near Phoenix AZ.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Phoenix AZ area trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
- Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master’s Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor’s Degree. Master’s Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. 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 wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.
To work as a professional and adopt the title of “Interior Designer”, a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.
Interior Designer Online Classes
For students who to study in the convenience of their homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no Phoenix AZ area interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
When you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your Phoenix AZ area school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It’s imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select 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). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Phoenix AZ employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some states do mandate that interior designers get 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 school. And in several of those states calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Phoenix AZ school you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 need some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Phoenix AZ area business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of Phoenix AZ area interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Phoenix AZ schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the Phoenix AZ interior design college you enroll in 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 at night or on weekends, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program near Phoenix ArizonaSelecting the right interior designer program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to recieve an advanced education, there are many points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer.
Some Additional Cities of Interest in Arizona