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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Fort Smith AR

How to Find the Best Interior Design Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college 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 essential that you receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate decision. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are key issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into consideration as well. We will address 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Fort Smith AR

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between them is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Fort Smith AR can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might 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, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Fort Smith Arkansas interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new career in Fort Smith AR. Your decision 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 regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take roughly 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Arkansas trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically 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 aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Why Study to 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.

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Fort Smith AR residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Fort Smith Arkansas employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate 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 some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Fort Smith AR program you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Arkansas or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Fort Smith AR business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Fort Smith AR colleges you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited college is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Fort Smith AR colleges you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Fort Smith home, go to the campus and attend a few classes. While there speak 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer program you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fort Smith AR, confirm that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Best Interior Design Program near Fort Smith Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Fort Smith ArkansasPicking the ideal interior design college is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college 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 decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several points to consider before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Fort Smith Arkansas.