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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alameda CA

How to Select the Best Interior Designer Course

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Alameda CA, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities 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 exam also. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alameda CA

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Alameda CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Alameda California interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Alameda CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed 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 furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade 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 supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Why Study to Become an Interior Designer?

Alameda CA student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Alameda CA residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Alameda California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an outstanding education, the Alameda CA school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Alameda CA business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Alameda CA schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance 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 selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Alameda CA schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Alameda home, visit the school and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alameda CA, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program near Alameda California

interior designed kitchen in Alameda CaliforniaChoosing the ideal interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are many factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alameda California.