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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Aliso Viejo CA

How to Select the Best Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Aliso Viejo CA, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? Many prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered 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 before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Aliso Viejo CA

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Aliso Viejo CA may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Aliso Viejo CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

Aliso Viejo CA student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the comfort of their Aliso Viejo CA homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For some students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Aliso Viejo CA home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design program and college 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors 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 organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Aliso Viejo California employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate 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, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Aliso Viejo CA school you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Aliso Viejo CA business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Aliso Viejo CA colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Aliso Viejo CA programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Aliso Viejo home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening 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, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to 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 school is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Aliso Viejo California.