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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Berkeley CA

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Berkeley CA, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? Many future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover 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 Berkeley CA

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, 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 taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Berkeley CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Berkeley California interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Berkeley CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to 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 mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

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 professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Schools

Berkeley CA student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Berkeley CA homes, there are accredited online interior design schools. Studying online can be an excellent option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect alternative for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Berkeley CA home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Berkeley California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require 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 requiring licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Berkeley CA school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Berkeley CA business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Berkeley CA schools you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Berkeley CA programs you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Berkeley home, visit the campus and monitor a few 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Berkeley CA, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Berkeley California

interior designed kitchen in Berkeley CaliforniaSelecting the right interior design college is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many points to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Berkeley California.