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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Atascadero CA

How to Find the Right Interior Designer Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Atascadero CA, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Atascadero CA

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Atascadero CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public areas, designers frequently focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Atascadero California interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new career in Atascadero CA. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be discussed 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 amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at a number of California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position 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 provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Colleges

Atascadero CA student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Atascadero CA homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online schools may be the sole alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive 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 environment, then an online interior design program may be the perfect option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Atascadero CA home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Atascadero California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Atascadero CA school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask 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 field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a large network of Atascadero CA business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Atascadero CA colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer 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 minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Atascadero CA programs you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Atascadero home, go to the campus and monitor a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Atascadero CA, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program near Atascadero California

interior designed kitchen in Atascadero CaliforniaChoosing the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are many points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atascadero California.