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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Berkeley CA

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school near Berkeley CA, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of 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 carry out the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some 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 relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 training choices are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Berkeley CA

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Berkeley CA can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training necessary to launch your new profession in Berkeley CA. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required 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 explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options 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 their careers.
  • 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 usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Berkeley California interior designer bathroomNow that you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Berkeley CA residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many 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, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate 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, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Berkeley CA college you enroll in should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some help 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 higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Berkeley CA business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Berkeley CA colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support 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. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Berkeley CA schools you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Berkeley home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Berkeley CA, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Design College near Berkeley California

interior designed kitchen in Berkeley CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding 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 decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools 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 Berkeley California.