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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Altadena CA

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Degree Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Altadena CA, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Altadena CA

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between them is the level 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 areas. However, working 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 trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On various occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Altadena CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Altadena California interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new career in Altadena CA. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered 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 level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily 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.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Designer Schools

Altadena CA student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the comfort of their Altadena CA homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

After you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Altadena CA home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Altadena California employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 mandating licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Altadena CA program you enroll in should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges 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 an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Altadena CA business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Altadena CA schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Altadena CA programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Altadena home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic 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, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School near Altadena California

interior designed kitchen in Altadena CaliforniaPicking the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Altadena California.