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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Castro Valley CA

How to Pick the Right Interior Design College

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Castro Valley CA, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you carry out the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Castro Valley CA

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Castro Valley CA may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with commercial or public areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Castro Valley California interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training needed to launch your new profession in Castro Valley CA. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are available at many California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components 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 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives 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 primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Why Become 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.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Once you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Castro Valley CA home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from 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 demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Castro Valley California employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become 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 requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to providing an excellent education, the Castro Valley CA program you choose should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Castro Valley CA business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Castro Valley CA colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Castro Valley CA colleges you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Castro Valley home, visit the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Castro Valley CA, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Castro Valley California

interior designed kitchen in Castro Valley CaliforniaChoosing the right interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Castro Valley California.