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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alameda CA

How to Pick the Right Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have decided 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 interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial 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 selection. But where do you start? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alameda CA

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between them is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Alameda CA can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Alameda California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Alameda CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide 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) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects 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 position 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 offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

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.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school 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 relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alameda California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Alameda CA school you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a substantial network of Alameda CA business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Alameda CA colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Alameda CA colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alameda home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alameda CA, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Design School near Alameda California

interior designed kitchen in Alameda CaliforniaPicking the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are a number of points to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alameda California.