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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Castro Valley CA

How to Find the Right Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Castro Valley CA, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift 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 require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Castro Valley CA

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The main distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working 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 trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Castro Valley CA may specialize in:

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

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Castro Valley California interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to start your new profession in Castro Valley CA. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide 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 discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at a number of California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the trade needed 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 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring 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 advance 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 college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Castro Valley California interior designer bathroomOnce you have decided on the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Castro Valley CA residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national 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 gone through a demanding 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 recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Castro Valley California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several 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 requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. So aside from providing an excellent education, the Castro Valley CA school you choose should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Castro Valley CA business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Castro Valley CA colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Castro Valley CA programs you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Castro Valley home, go to the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly 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, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Castro Valley California

interior designed kitchen in Castro Valley CaliforniaPicking the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of points to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions 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 superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Castro Valley California.