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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Aliso Viejo CA

How to Pick the Right Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Aliso Viejo CA, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are considering before you make your final selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. We will address those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Aliso Viejo CA

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated 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 often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Aliso Viejo California interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

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

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at a number of California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets 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 position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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. Doctoral programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

Aliso Viejo CA student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the convenience of their Aliso Viejo CA homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Aliso Viejo CA residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation 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 agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Aliso Viejo California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Aliso Viejo CA college you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges 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 an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Aliso Viejo CA business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Aliso Viejo CA colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Aliso Viejo home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Aliso Viejo CA, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program near Aliso Viejo California

interior designed kitchen in Aliso Viejo CaliforniaPicking the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Aliso Viejo California.