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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Atascadero CA

How to Select the Right Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer 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 imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Atascadero CA

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may team up 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 existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Atascadero California interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new profession in Atascadero CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Degree Programs

Atascadero CA student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the comfort of their Atascadero CA homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Atascadero CA residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous 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 recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Atascadero California employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Atascadero CA school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools 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 held in high regard within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Atascadero CA business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Atascadero CA schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Atascadero CA programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Atascadero home, go to the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Atascadero CA, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Atascadero California

interior designed kitchen in Atascadero CaliforniaChoosing the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atascadero California.