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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Aliso Viejo CA

How to Find the Right Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Aliso Viejo CA, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Aliso Viejo CA

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Aliso Viejo CA may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Aliso Viejo California interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to launch your new profession in Aliso Viejo CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at numerous California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs 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 aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Schools

Aliso Viejo CA student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Aliso Viejo CA homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, 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 education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

When you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Aliso Viejo CA home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Aliso Viejo California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Aliso Viejo CA college you select should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Aliso Viejo CA business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

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

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Aliso Viejo home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Aliso Viejo 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 option also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Aliso Viejo California

interior designed kitchen in Aliso Viejo CaliforniaPicking the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected 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 provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Aliso Viejo California.