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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Little Rock AR

How to Pick the Right Interior Design Course

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Little Rock AR, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to assess and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate selection. But where do you start? Many prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will cover those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Little Rock AR

Many people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, 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 living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Little Rock AR can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Little Rock Arkansas interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Little Rock AR. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at numerous Arkansas vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs provide advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

What to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Little Rock Arkansas interior designer bathroomNow that you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the college has to be within commuting distance from your Little Rock AR home. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your options also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you examine and ultimately pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Little Rock Arkansas employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States calling for licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Little Rock AR school you choose should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a significant network of Little Rock AR business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Little Rock AR colleges you are reviewing and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Little Rock AR colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Little Rock home, visit the college and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Fit your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Little Rock AR, verify that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Designer School near Little Rock Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Little Rock ArkansasSelecting the right interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Locating a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have chosen. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance 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 appropriate final selection. And with excellent training and your desire to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Little Rock Arkansas.