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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Castro Valley CA

How to Find the Best Interior Design School

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Castro Valley CA, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's crucial that you do the proper research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your ultimate selection. But just where do you begin? A number of prospective students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial 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 class choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Castro Valley CA

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two 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 essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often focus predominantly 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 emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous 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 create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Castro Valley California interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new profession in Castro Valley CA. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt 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) exam mandated in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous California trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply 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 minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized 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. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ 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 some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Castro Valley California interior designer bathroomWhen you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the campus needs to be within commuting distance from your Castro Valley CA home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your options as well. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded 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 instructors and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Castro Valley California employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Castro Valley CA college you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the college has a large network of Castro Valley CA business connections where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

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

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Castro Valley CA colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Castro Valley home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Castro Valley CA, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Castro Valley California

interior designed kitchen in Castro Valley CaliforniaPicking the right interior designer school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of points to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Castro Valley California.