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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Castro Valley CA

How to Pick the Best Interior Design College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Castro Valley CA, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But where do you start? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are relevant variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration also. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Castro Valley CA

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

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Castro Valley California interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to launch your new profession in Castro Valley CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at many California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment 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 needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Why Do You Want to Be an Interior Designer?

Castro Valley CA student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

When you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Castro Valley CA home. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential 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 industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Castro Valley California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Castro Valley CA school you enroll in should also provide the suitable 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, 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 regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Castro Valley CA business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Castro Valley CA colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Castro Valley CA colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Castro Valley home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your active 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 Castro Valley CA, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Castro Valley California

interior designed kitchen in Castro Valley CaliforniaSelecting the right interior design program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to think about before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Castro Valley California.