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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Hot Springs AR

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Hot Springs AR, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each program that you are looking at before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? A number of potential students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will address 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 training choices are available.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Hot Springs AR

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The main difference between them is the level of training 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 requires formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Hot Springs AR may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas 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 several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Hot Springs Arkansas interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training needed to begin your new career in Hot Springs AR. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the field. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Arkansas vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use 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 professional experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

Hot Springs Arkansas interior designer bathroomOnce you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Hot Springs AR home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But picking 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 things that you should consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and ultimately choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm 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 employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Hot Springs AR college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a significant network of Hot Springs AR business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Hot Springs AR schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they provide. A number of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Hot Springs AR schools you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Hot Springs home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Hot Springs AR, make certain that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Designer School near Hot Springs Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Hot Springs ArkansasChoosing the ideal interior design school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many factors to think about before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hot Springs Arkansas.