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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Altadena CA

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Altadena 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 important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, 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 compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Altadena CA

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Altadena 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, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to 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, Altadena California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Altadena CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at a number of California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Schools

Altadena CA student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Altadena CA homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire 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 structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the school must be within driving distance from your Altadena CA residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Altadena California employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require 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 several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Altadena CA school you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Altadena CA business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Altadena CA schools you are reviewing and find out what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Altadena CA colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Altadena home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask 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, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in offers 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 in the evening or on weekends near Altadena CA, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Altadena California

interior designed kitchen in Altadena CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Altadena California.