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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alameda CA

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Alameda CA, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alameda CA

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Alameda CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Alameda CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for 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 offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things 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. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally 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 colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Alameda California interior designer bathroomWhen you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Alameda CA home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alameda California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Alameda CA school you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance 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 trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Alameda CA business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Alameda CA schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alameda CA programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alameda home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with some 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alameda CA, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Alameda California

interior designed kitchen in Alameda CaliforniaChoosing the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are several points to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alameda California.