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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Berkeley CA

How to Pick the Right Interior Designer Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Berkeley CA, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive 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 exam also. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at 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 choices are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Berkeley CA

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Berkeley CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers frequently 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 main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Berkeley California interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Berkeley CA. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain 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 deal with the technical and creative components of the trade required 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 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

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

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Berkeley California interior designer bathroomOnce you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school has to be within driving distance from your Berkeley CA home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to look at also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you enroll in 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized 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 securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Berkeley California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an outstanding education, the Berkeley CA school you choose should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a sizable network of Berkeley CA business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Berkeley CA colleges you are looking at and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Berkeley CA programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Berkeley home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will 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 available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Berkeley California

interior designed kitchen in Berkeley CaliforniaSelecting the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Berkeley California.