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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Little Rock AR

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer School

Now that you have decided 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 talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Little Rock AR

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas 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 area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might focus more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From selecting wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Little Rock Arkansas interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree options offered in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Little Rock AR. Your selection will undoubtedly be driven by your career goals 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 sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Arkansas vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Questions to Ask Interior Design Programs

Little Rock Arkansas interior designer bathroomAfter you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Little Rock AR residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design college and program that you select 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and programs. 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 establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Little Rock Arkansas employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of 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 college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Little Rock AR program you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also signify that the school has a sizable network of Little Rock AR business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance departments for the Little Rock AR schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Little Rock AR schools you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Little Rock home, visit the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design program you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Little Rock AR, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option also. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Designer College near Little Rock Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Little Rock ArkansasPicking the right interior designer school is an important initial step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still important that you perform 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 programs so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Little Rock Arkansas.