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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Berkeley CA

How to Find the Right Interior Designer School

Once 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 talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Berkeley CA

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

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. 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 kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Berkeley California interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training needed to start your new career in Berkeley CA. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose 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) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the business 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 two year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 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, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Colleges

Berkeley CA student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing 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 hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Berkeley CA home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when applying for financial assistance 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 programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Berkeley CA program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at 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 esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a large network of Berkeley CA business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Berkeley CA colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Berkeley CA programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Berkeley home, visit the school and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Berkeley CA, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Berkeley California

interior designed kitchen in Berkeley CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are several things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. However it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Berkeley California.