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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Brentwood CA

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Brentwood CA, it's time to start the process of selecting 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 skills 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 as well. So it's essential that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate 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 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Brentwood CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers normally 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 stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Brentwood California interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new career in Brentwood CA. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to choose 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 covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at many California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance 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 differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Brentwood California interior designer bathroomWhen you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Brentwood CA home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Brentwood California employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate 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 program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Brentwood CA program you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job placement 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 regarded within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Brentwood CA business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Brentwood CA schools you are looking at and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Brentwood CA schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Brentwood home, visit the campus and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Brentwood CA, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Brentwood California

interior designed kitchen in Brentwood CaliforniaPicking the right interior designer school is an important first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Brentwood California.