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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Brentwood CA

How to Select the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer school near Brentwood 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 important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But where do you begin? Many potential students will start their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Brentwood CA

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training 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 living areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Brentwood CA can specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Brentwood California interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to obtain the training needed to launch your new career in Brentwood CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take 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. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer 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 the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally 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 colleges become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Brentwood California interior designer bathroomAfter you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Brentwood CA residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Brentwood California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers get 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Brentwood CA school you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a large network of Brentwood CA business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Brentwood CA schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Brentwood CA programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Brentwood home, visit the school and monitor 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 philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Brentwood CA, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College near Brentwood California

interior designed kitchen in Brentwood CaliforniaPicking the ideal interior design program is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task no matter what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several points to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Brentwood California.