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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Little Rock AR

How to Select the Right Interior Design Course

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Little Rock AR, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account also. 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 cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Little Rock AR

Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The main distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Little Rock 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 the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui principles, Little Rock Arkansas interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Little Rock AR. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at many 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 furnish more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative components 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 2 year programs supply advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Train to Become an Interior Designer?

Little Rock 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 Designer Schools

Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Little Rock AR home. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will limit your options as well. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, 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 Little Rock Arkansas employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 mandating licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Little Rock AR school you choose should also provide the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Little Rock AR business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Little Rock AR colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Little Rock AR schools you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Little Rock home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few 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 Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior design college you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Little Rock AR, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Designer School near Little Rock Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Little Rock ArkansasSelecting the right interior designer program 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 challenging task no matter what major you have decided on. As with any undertaking to attain a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Little Rock Arkansas.