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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Atascadero CA

How to Select the Right Interior Designer College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer 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 essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But where do you begin? A number of potential students will start their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Atascadero CA

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working 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 trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Atascadero CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must 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 selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Atascadero California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Atascadero CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But no matter 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 mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Classes

Atascadero CA student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the convenience of their Atascadero CA homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Atascadero CA home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Atascadero California employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Atascadero CA program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a large network of Atascadero CA business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Atascadero CA schools you are looking at and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Atascadero CA colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Atascadero home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Atascadero CA, make certain that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Atascadero California

interior designed kitchen in Atascadero CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atascadero California.