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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alameda CA

How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Alameda CA, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial 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 could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alameda CA

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Alameda CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an 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 many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Alameda California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new career in Alameda CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be 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 several states. More will be covered 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 training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices 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 mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

Alameda CA student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the comfort of their Alameda CA homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within driving distance from your Alameda CA residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Alameda California employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Alameda CA school you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill 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 earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Alameda CA business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Alameda CA schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alameda CA schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Alameda home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly 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, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the protocol 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 right interior designer school is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alameda California.