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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 designer college near Alhambra CA, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alhambra CA

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Alhambra CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. 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 may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. 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 spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Alhambra California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new career in Alhambra CA. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade 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 provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

Alhambra California interior designer bathroomOnce you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Alhambra CA home. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer college and program that you choose 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 an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. 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 establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Alhambra California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require 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 calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Alhambra CA college you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program'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 looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a large network of Alhambra CA business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Alhambra CA colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alhambra CA programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Alhambra home, go to the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Alhambra CA, make sure 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 protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Alhambra California

interior designed kitchen in Alhambra CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alhambra California.