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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Altadena CA

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Altadena CA, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered also. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 choices are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Altadena CA

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education 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 areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Altadena CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially 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 Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential 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 selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Altadena California interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in Altadena CA. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at many California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

Altadena California interior designer bathroomOnce you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within commuting distance from your Altadena CA home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Altadena California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 school. And in some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Altadena CA college you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. 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 higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Altadena CA business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Altadena CA schools you are reviewing and ask what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Altadena CA colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Altadena home, visit the college 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 credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Altadena CA, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Altadena California

interior designed kitchen in Altadena CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Altadena California.