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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Fort Smith AR

How to Enroll in the Best Interior Designer College

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Fort Smith AR, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's very important that you carry out the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are considering prior to making your final choice. But just where do you begin? Some potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover 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 Fort Smith AR

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad categories that an interior designer in Fort Smith AR may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, 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 various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Fort Smith Arkansas interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to start your new career in Fort Smith AR. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation 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 training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Arkansas community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can usually obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed 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 furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices 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. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

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

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Fort Smith AR 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

When you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Fort Smith AR residence. Naturally 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 decrease your options also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their instructors 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 agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Fort Smith Arkansas employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Fort Smith AR school you choose should also furnish the suitable training to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Fort Smith AR business connections where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Fort Smith AR colleges you are reviewing and find out what type of support they provide. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Fort Smith AR schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Fort Smith home, go to the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fort Smith AR, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Fort Smith Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Fort Smith ArkansasSelecting the ideal interior design college is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying profession. Finding a school where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have selected. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are a number of things to consider before choosing a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fort Smith Arkansas.