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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Brentwood CA

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Brentwood CA, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your talents 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 crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? Many potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Brentwood CA

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference 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 areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Brentwood 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 a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Brentwood California interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training needed to launch your new career in Brentwood CA. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at a number of California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical aspects of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options 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. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Brentwood 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 Design Programs

Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within driving distance from your Brentwood CA residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Brentwood California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Brentwood CA school you choose should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Brentwood CA business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Brentwood CA schools you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Brentwood CA schools you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Brentwood home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Brentwood CA, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Brentwood California

interior designed kitchen in Brentwood CaliforniaSelecting the right interior design program is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Brentwood California.