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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Aliso Viejo CA

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Aliso Viejo CA, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you must ask 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 options are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Aliso Viejo CA

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Aliso Viejo CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus 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, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Aliso Viejo California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Aliso Viejo CA. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Aliso Viejo California interior designer bathroomWhen you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus 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 prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Aliso Viejo California employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Aliso Viejo CA school you enroll in should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Aliso Viejo CA business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Aliso Viejo CA colleges you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Aliso Viejo home, go to the college and attend a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Aliso Viejo CA, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Aliso Viejo California

interior designed kitchen in Aliso Viejo CaliforniaSelecting the right interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Aliso Viejo California.