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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Castro Valley CA

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Castro Valley CA, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Castro Valley CA

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Castro Valley CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. 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 incorporating Feng shui concepts, Castro Valley California interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training necessary to begin your new career in Castro Valley CA. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to complete and programs are available at numerous California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 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 several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

Castro Valley CA student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the convenience of their Castro Valley CA homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design college may be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Once you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Castro Valley CA residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design college and program that you select has earned accreditation from 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Castro Valley California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Castro Valley CA program you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Castro Valley CA business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Castro Valley CA schools you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior design programs offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Castro Valley CA colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Castro Valley home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Castro Valley CA, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School near Castro Valley California

interior designed kitchen in Castro Valley CaliforniaSelecting the ideal interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting task no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Castro Valley California.