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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Chico CA

How to Choose the Right Interior Design School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Chico CA, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the right 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 may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's vital that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Many potential students will kick off their research by looking for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Chico CA

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between them is the level of training required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates 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 living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Chico CA can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Chico California interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new profession in Chico CA. Your decision will undoubtedly be motivated by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at a number of California vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer 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. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

Chico CA student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Chico CA homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated also. Just make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the school needs 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 fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you should look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and subsequently choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design program and college that you select has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Chico California employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Chico CA program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for California or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges 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 regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Chico CA business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Chico CA colleges you are looking at and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial aid to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

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 attention from the teachers. Ask the Chico CA schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Chico home, visit the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer program you enroll in provides classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Chico CA, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Chico California

interior designed kitchen in Chico CaliforniaPicking the ideal interior design program is an important initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several factors to think about before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the business. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Chico California.