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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Chico CA

How to Select the Best Interior Design School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Chico CA, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But where do you begin? Many potential students will launch their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask 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 Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Chico CA

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Chico CA can specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Chico California interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Chico CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of California community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs provide advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Study to Become an Interior Designer?

Chico 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 Designer Schools

Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Chico CA residence. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Chico California employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get 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, two or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Chico CA school you select should also provide the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for California or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the colleges 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 sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a large network of Chico CA business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Chico CA schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Chico CA schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Chico home, visit the campus and sit in on 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 philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design program you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Chico CA, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Chico California

interior designed kitchen in Chico CaliforniaChoosing the right interior designer college is a critical first step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a specific area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are several things to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chico California.