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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Hot Springs AR

How to Select the Best Interior Design Course

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer school near Hot Springs AR, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your final selection. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Hot Springs AR

Many people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key 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 talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general areas that an interior designer in Hot Springs AR can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Hot Springs Arkansas interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to start your new profession in Hot Springs AR. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Arkansas trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover 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 furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

Hot Springs Arkansas interior designer bathroomAfter you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school needs to be within commuting distance from your Hot Springs AR residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices as well. But choosing the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior design college and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national organization. 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm 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 education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Hot Springs Arkansas employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Hot Springs AR college you enroll in should also provide the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and received your interior designer certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the school has a significant network of Hot Springs AR business connections where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Hot Springs AR colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Hot Springs AR colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Hot Springs home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you choose provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Hot Springs AR, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Design School near Hot Springs Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Hot Springs ArkansasChoosing the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any undertaking to acquire a higher education, there are many things to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. However it is still important that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hot Springs Arkansas.