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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Alhambra CA

How to Choose the Best Interior Design 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 spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching 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 options are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Alhambra CA

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Alhambra CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Alhambra California interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Alhambra CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at a number of California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after attaining 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 their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire 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.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Classes

Alhambra CA student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the convenience of their Alhambra CA homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Alhambra CA home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to verify 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Alhambra California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Alhambra CA college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Alhambra CA business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Alhambra CA colleges you are looking at and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Alhambra CA colleges you are considering what their typical 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 speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Alhambra CA, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School near Alhambra California

interior designed kitchen in Alhambra CaliforniaPicking the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Alhambra California.