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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Burlingame CA

How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Burlingame CA, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training 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 school that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of future students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Burlingame CA

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Burlingame CA can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Burlingame California interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Burlingame CA. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Designer Online Schools

Burlingame CA student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Burlingame CA homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right alternative for you.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Burlingame CA home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Burlingame California employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 some of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Burlingame CA college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education 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 design certification, you will no doubt want some support in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Burlingame CA business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Burlingame CA schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Burlingame CA programs you are looking at what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Burlingame home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Burlingame CA, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Burlingame California

interior designed kitchen in Burlingame CaliforniaPicking the right interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Burlingame California.