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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Castro Valley CA

How to Select the Right Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Castro Valley CA, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you get 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 could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each school that you are looking at prior to making your final selection. But just where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will address those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Castro Valley CA

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, working as an interior designer requires a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Castro Valley CA can specialize in:

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

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

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to launch your new career in Castro Valley CA. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in 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) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

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

Online Interior Designer Colleges

Castro Valley CA student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Castro Valley CA homes, there are accredited online interior design programs. Studying online can be an excellent solution for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online schools may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be decreased or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the school you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Castro Valley CA home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will decrease your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you select has earned accreditation from 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 earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting 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 schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore aside from furnishing an excellent education, the Castro Valley CA program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam 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 design certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Castro Valley CA business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Castro Valley CA schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal 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 schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Castro Valley home, visit the campus and sit in on 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 philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Castro Valley CA, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol 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 CaliforniaPicking the ideal interior designer program is an important first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are several factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college 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 provided in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Castro Valley California.