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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Conway AR

How to Pick the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Conway AR, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you perform the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? Some future students will begin their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. We will cover those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Conway AR

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business 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 living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Conway AR can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks 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, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Conway Arkansas interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new profession in Conway AR. Your selection will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Arkansas community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be called for before an applicant can sit for the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Colleges

Conway AR student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to attend classes in the convenience of their Conway AR homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a good option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional 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 also. Just make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Conway AR residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose 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). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just confirm that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Conway Arkansas employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers become 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 program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an outstanding education, the Conway AR college you enroll in should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Conway AR business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Conway AR schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Conway AR schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Conway home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Conway AR, confirm that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Conway Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Conway ArkansasSelecting the right interior designer school is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many factors to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the business. However it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Conway Arkansas.