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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Brentwood CA

How to Choose the Best Interior Design Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Brentwood 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 spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Brentwood CA

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Brentwood CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Brentwood CA. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish 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 graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such 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 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 colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Colleges

Brentwood CA student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Brentwood CA homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the school you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, 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 online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the perfect alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Brentwood CA home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking 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 things that you should consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most highly regarded 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 instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Brentwood California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Brentwood CA college you select should also provide 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a sizable network of Brentwood CA business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Brentwood CA colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Brentwood CA colleges you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Brentwood home, go to the campus and monitor 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 styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Brentwood CA, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Brentwood California

interior designed kitchen in Brentwood CaliforniaPicking the right interior designer college is an important initial step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Brentwood California.