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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Berkeley CA

How to Find the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Berkeley CA, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching 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 available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Berkeley CA

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between them is the amount of education required. Any person 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 requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Berkeley CA can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to get the training necessary to start your new profession in Berkeley CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit 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 qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at numerous California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects 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 achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are largely for those professionals who want 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 use the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Schools

Berkeley California interior designer bathroomAfter you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Berkeley CA home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to look at also, 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 get those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional 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 gone through a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Berkeley California employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require 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 college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Berkeley CA college you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Berkeley CA business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment 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 find out what type of support they provide. Many of interior designer schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Berkeley CA colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Berkeley home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you choose provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Berkeley CA, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Berkeley California

interior designed kitchen in Berkeley CaliforniaChoosing the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Berkeley California.