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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Atascadero CA

How to Select the Best Interior Designer Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Atascadero CA, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Atascadero CA

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Atascadero CA may specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training required to launch your new career in Atascadero CA. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the trade 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 two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want 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 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, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Why Train to Become 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.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Atascadero CA residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Atascadero California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Atascadero CA college you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Atascadero CA business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Atascadero CA colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Atascadero CA schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Atascadero home, visit the school 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 philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design program you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Atascadero CA, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design School near Atascadero California

interior designed kitchen in Atascadero CaliforniaChoosing the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atascadero California.