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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alhambra CA

How to Pick the Best Interior Design College

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Alhambra CA, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alhambra CA

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone 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 requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Alhambra CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate 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 hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Alhambra California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Alhambra CA. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Why Study to Become an Interior Designer?

Alhambra 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

After you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Alhambra CA residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when securing 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 programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate 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 mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Alhambra CA program you enroll in should also provide the suitable 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 Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Alhambra CA business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Alhambra CA colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases 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 personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Alhambra CA colleges you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Alhambra home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are 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 active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alhambra CA, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design School near Alhambra California

interior designed kitchen in Alhambra CaliforniaSelecting the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review 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 accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alhambra California.