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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alameda CA

How to Pick the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Alameda CA, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking 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 training choices are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alameda CA

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad 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 may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new profession in Alameda CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at many California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain 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 in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Classes

Alameda CA student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the convenience of their Alameda CA homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Alameda CA residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected 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 programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance 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 School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Alameda CA program you select should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication 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 college has a significant network of Alameda CA business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Alameda CA schools you are looking at and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alameda CA programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Alameda home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alameda CA, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Alameda California

interior designed kitchen in Alameda CaliforniaPicking the right interior design college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alameda California.