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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alhambra CA

How to Find the Right Interior Design Course

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Alhambra CA, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final choice. But where do you start? A number of future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. 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 talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alhambra CA

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Alhambra CA may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must 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 principles, Alhambra California interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new career in Alhambra CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit 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 qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth 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 secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees 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 typically completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Colleges

Alhambra CA student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the convenience of their Alhambra CA homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. 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 option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Alhambra CA home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Alhambra California employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an excellent education, the Alhambra CA program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Alhambra CA business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Alhambra CA schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alhambra CA schools you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Alhambra home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Alhambra CA, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Program near Alhambra California

interior designed kitchen in Alhambra CaliforniaChoosing the right interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alhambra California.