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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alhambra CA

How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Alhambra 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 appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Alhambra CA

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Alhambra CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks 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, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Alhambra California interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Alhambra CA. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at many California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Why Do You Want to Be 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 Designer Programs

Once you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Alhambra CA residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Alhambra California employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Alhambra CA school you choose should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Alhambra CA business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Alhambra CA colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program 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 personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Alhambra CA programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Alhambra home, visit the school and attend 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 philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Alhambra CA, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Alhambra California

interior designed kitchen in Alhambra CaliforniaSelecting the right interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alhambra California.