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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Atascadero CA

How to Select the Best Interior Designer College

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Atascadero CA, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's crucial that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? Many prospective students will start their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, 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

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Atascadero CA may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Atascadero California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new career in Atascadero CA. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain 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 several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at numerous California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment 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 aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use 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 needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Why Do You Want to Be an Interior Designer?

Atascadero CA student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Atascadero CA residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. 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 things that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. 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 a rigorous evaluation 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Atascadero California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get 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 school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Atascadero CA school you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges 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 sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a large network of Atascadero CA business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Atascadero CA schools you are reviewing and find out what type of support they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Atascadero CA programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Atascadero home, visit the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Atascadero CA, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Atascadero California

interior designed kitchen in Atascadero CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior design program is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atascadero California.