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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Arcadia CA

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Arcadia 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 imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become 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 appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Arcadia CA

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, 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 taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Arcadia CA can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Arcadia California interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to launch your new profession in Arcadia CA. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations 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 roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Arcadia California interior designer bathroomNow that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Arcadia CA home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and school that you enroll in 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Arcadia California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 program. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Arcadia CA program you choose should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy 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 obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. 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 a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Arcadia CA business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid departments for the Arcadia CA schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Arcadia CA programs you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Arcadia home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Arcadia CA, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Arcadia California

interior designed kitchen in Arcadia CaliforniaChoosing the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several points to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance 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 right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Arcadia California.