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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Hot Springs AR

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Hot Springs AR, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you get the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become 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 analyze and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Many potential students will launch their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in 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 alternatives are offered.

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Interior Decoration and Interior Design

interior designed living room in Hot Springs AR

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic 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 and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Hot Springs AR can 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, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers frequently concentrate primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

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

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree options available in interior design to get the training required to begin your new profession in Hot Springs AR. Your selection will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the time and money that you have to commit to 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 qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Arkansas trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that supply more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

Hot Springs AR student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Hot Springs AR homes, there are accredited online interior design classes. Attending classes online can be an excellent option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online programs may be the only alternative if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just be sure that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the ideal option for you.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Hot Springs AR home. Of course if you have decided on attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other things that you need to look at also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary 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 field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial aid 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 jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to providing an outstanding education, the Hot Springs AR school you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a sizable network of Hot Springs AR business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Hot Springs AR schools you are reviewing and ask what type of aid they offer. A number of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide 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 limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Hot Springs AR programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Hot Springs home, visit the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm 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 school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Hot Springs AR, make certain that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Design School near Hot Springs Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Hot Springs ArkansasChoosing the ideal interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your education and develop your skills in a particular area of study is a daunting job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Hot Springs Arkansas.