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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Atascadero CA

How to Find the Right Interior Design College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Atascadero CA, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, 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, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But exactly where do you begin? A number of potential students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Atascadero CA

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous 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 some projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Atascadero CA can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Atascadero California interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Atascadero CA. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Designer Online Classes

Atascadero CA student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Atascadero CA homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, 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 distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Atascadero CA home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting 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 should look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and college that you choose has earned accreditation from 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 a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Atascadero California employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate 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 some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Atascadero CA program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction 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 School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, 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 trade and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Atascadero CA business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Atascadero CA schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program 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 Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Atascadero CA programs you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Atascadero home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of 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 experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Atascadero CA, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Atascadero California

interior designed kitchen in Atascadero CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atascadero California.