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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alameda CA

How to Choose the Right Interior Design Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Alameda CA, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your final decision. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will start their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alameda CA

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator 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 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 living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Alameda CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Alameda California interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Alameda CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at many California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

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

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

Alameda California interior designer bathroomOnce you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Alameda CA home. Obviously 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 decrease your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional 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 undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Alameda California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Alameda CA college you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for California 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 probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Alameda CA business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Alameda CA colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alameda CA colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alameda home, go to the school and sit in on 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 approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alameda CA, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Alameda California

interior designed kitchen in Alameda CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alameda California.