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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Castro Valley CA

How to Find the Right Interior Design School

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 talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But where do you start? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will address those topics and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Castro Valley CA

Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Castro Valley CA can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Castro Valley CA. Your decision will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed 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 accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of training needed to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives 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. Doctorate programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Schools

Castro Valley California interior designer bathroomAfter you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school must be within commuting distance from your Castro Valley CA residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and instructors. 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining 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 Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an excellent education, the Castro Valley CA college you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the college has a significant network of Castro Valley CA business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Castro Valley CA colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Castro Valley CA programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Castro Valley home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design program you enroll in offers classes the fit your active 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, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Designer Program near Castro Valley California

interior designed kitchen in Castro Valley CaliforniaSelecting the right interior designer school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before choosing a program, course 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 conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Castro Valley California.