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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Berkeley CA

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Berkeley CA, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some future students will kick off their research by looking for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Berkeley CA

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Berkeley CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui principles, Berkeley California interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Berkeley CA. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make 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 accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 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 several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing examination.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Berkeley CA student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Berkeley CA residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose 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). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Berkeley California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Berkeley CA school you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Berkeley CA business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Berkeley CA colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller 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 Berkeley CA schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Berkeley home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior designer school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night 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 as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design Program near Berkeley California

interior designed kitchen in Berkeley CaliforniaPicking the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are a number of things to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But 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 effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Berkeley California.