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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Little Rock AR

How to Select the Best Interior Design Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program 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 residential or commercial interiors, it's important that you obtain the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's crucial that you perform the proper research so that you can analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate selection. But exactly where do you start? A number of potential students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important variables when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Little Rock AR

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Little Rock AR may specialize in:

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

There are numerous areas of commercial and residential 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 carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Little Rock Arkansas interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training necessary to begin your new career in Little Rock AR. Your decision will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter 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) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are offered at many Arkansas vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These two year programs furnish advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Interior Designer Online Schools

Little Rock AR student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to study in the comfort of their Little Rock AR homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. 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 home computer or laptop when convenient for the student. For some students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the ideal alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Schools

After you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating your school options. Location will be a critical issue, especially if the college has to be within driving distance from your Little Rock AR home. Naturally if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior designer program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. 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 gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers 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 confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting 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 programs for entry level positions.

Does the Program Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Little Rock AR school you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Little Rock AR business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Little Rock AR schools you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Little Rock AR colleges you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Little Rock home, visit the school and monitor a couple of classes. While there speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Little Rock AR, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Little Rock Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Little Rock ArkansasChoosing the right interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many points to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with superior training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Little Rock Arkansas.