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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alhambra CA

How to Find the Best Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Alhambra CA, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other important 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alhambra CA

Some people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between the two is the level of training 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 requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad 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 basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Alhambra California interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new profession in Alhambra CA. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Why Train 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.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Alhambra CA residence. Naturally if you have decided on 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 options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged 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 applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Alhambra California employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Alhambra CA school you enroll in should also furnish 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. 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 high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade 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 secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Alhambra CA colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alhambra CA schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alhambra home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Alhambra CA, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Alhambra California

interior designed kitchen in Alhambra CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior design college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alhambra California.