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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Aliso Viejo CA

How to Select the Best Interior Design College

Once you have decided 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 commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain 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 could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Aliso Viejo CA

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Aliso Viejo CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to begin your new career in Aliso Viejo CA. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at many California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment 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 creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree 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 training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Why Study to Become an Interior Designer?

Aliso Viejo 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 Design Colleges

When you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Aliso Viejo CA residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 gone through a demanding 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 agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Aliso Viejo California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Aliso Viejo CA program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Aliso Viejo CA business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Aliso Viejo CA colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Small 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 Aliso Viejo CA schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Aliso Viejo home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Aliso Viejo CA, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Aliso Viejo California

interior designed kitchen in Aliso Viejo CaliforniaPicking the right interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Aliso Viejo California.