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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alameda CA

How to Find the Right Interior Design Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Alameda CA, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training 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 looking at prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alameda CA

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Alameda CA may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Alameda California interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new profession in Alameda CA. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed 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 furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Alameda California interior designer bathroomOnce you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Alameda CA home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for 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 programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Alameda CA college you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably need some support 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 sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Alameda CA business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Alameda CA schools you are reviewing and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Alameda CA schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alameda home, go to the school and attend a few classes. While there speak 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Alameda CA, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Alameda California

interior designed kitchen in Alameda CaliforniaChoosing the ideal 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 specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in 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 imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alameda California.