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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alhambra CA

How to Choose the Right Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Alhambra CA, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many future students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alhambra CA

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer requires 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 residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Alhambra CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. 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 Designing. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Alhambra CA. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized 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 programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Alhambra California interior designer bathroomAfter you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Alhambra CA home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. 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 undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Alhambra California employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Alhambra CA school you choose should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a significant network of Alhambra CA business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Alhambra CA colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Alhambra CA colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Alhambra home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Alhambra CA, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Alhambra California

interior designed kitchen in Alhambra CaliforniaSelecting the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs 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 Alhambra California.