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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alameda CA

How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Alameda CA, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask 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 training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alameda CA

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person 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 necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Alameda CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Alameda California interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to start your new profession in Alameda CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Why 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.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially 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 able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Alameda California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep 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) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Alameda CA college you choose should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Alameda CA business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Alameda CA colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Alameda CA colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alameda home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask 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? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alameda CA, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Alameda California

interior designed kitchen in Alameda CaliforniaSelecting the right interior designer school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alameda California.