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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alameda CA

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Alameda CA, it's time to start 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 a number of states do require 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 essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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 training options are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alameda CA

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Alameda CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently 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 particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example 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 carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Alameda California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Alameda CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business required 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 provide advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Classes

Alameda CA student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the convenience of their Alameda CA homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Alameda CA home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alameda California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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 requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Alameda CA college you select should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance 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 a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Alameda CA business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Alameda CA schools you are reviewing and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Alameda CA colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alameda home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alameda CA, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School near Alameda California

interior designed kitchen in Alameda CaliforniaSelecting the right interior designer program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alameda California.