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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Hot Springs AR

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design school near Hot Springs AR, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the right training to put your talents to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you carry out the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each school that you are considering before you make your ultimate choice. But exactly where do you begin? Some potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Hot Springs AR

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous 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 areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Hot Springs AR can specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Hot Springs Arkansas interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to start your new career in Hot Springs AR. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose 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) examination required in some states. More will be addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Arkansas trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can normally obtain entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business required 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 furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Hot Springs Arkansas interior designer bathroomAfter you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Hot Springs AR home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior design college and program that you select 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 an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify 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 confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Hot Springs Arkansas employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers get 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 some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Hot Springs AR school you choose should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. 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 school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a large network of Hot Springs AR business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Hot Springs AR schools you are evaluating and ask what type of support they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Hot Springs AR schools you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Hot Springs home, visit the college 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 approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design program you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Hot Springs AR, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer College near Hot Springs Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Hot Springs ArkansasPicking the right interior designer college is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Locating a college where you will obtain your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to think about before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still important that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hot Springs Arkansas.