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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Altadena CA

How to Select the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Altadena CA, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several 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 very important that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Altadena CA

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent 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 Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Altadena CA can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Altadena California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new profession in Altadena CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at many California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five 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, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Why Do You Want to Be an Interior Designer?

Altadena 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.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

Once you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Altadena CA residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Altadena California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Altadena CA college you select should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, 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 may also signify that the college has a sizable network of Altadena CA business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Altadena CA schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Altadena CA programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Altadena home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Altadena CA, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Program near Altadena California

interior designed kitchen in Altadena CaliforniaPicking the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Altadena California.