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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Atascadero CA

How to Select the Best Interior Designer Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Atascadero CA, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But exactly where do you start? Many prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Atascadero CA

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Atascadero CA may specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Atascadero California interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Atascadero CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices 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 mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Atascadero California interior designer bathroomNow that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Atascadero CA home. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation 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 agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining 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 programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Atascadero CA college you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction 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 School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt 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 highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Atascadero CA business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Atascadero CA colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Atascadero CA colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Atascadero home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer school you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important 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 certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Atascadero California

interior designed kitchen in Atascadero CaliforniaChoosing the right interior design program is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atascadero California.