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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alhambra CA

How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Course

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Alhambra CA, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. 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 training options are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alhambra CA

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing 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 work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two 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 essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must 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 wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Alhambra California interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Alhambra CA. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of California vocational schools and community 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 in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade 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 supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary 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", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Alhambra California interior designer bathroomOnce you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Alhambra CA home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Alhambra California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of 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, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Alhambra CA school you choose should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out 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 field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of Alhambra CA business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Alhambra CA colleges you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alhambra CA schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Alhambra home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly 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, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Alhambra California

interior designed kitchen in Alhambra CaliforniaChoosing the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are many points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alhambra California.