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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near North Little Rock AR

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer School

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer degree program near North Little Rock AR, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the right training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you begin? A number of prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration also. We will discuss those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing 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 options are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in North Little Rock AR

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The principal distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may team up with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in North Little Rock AR can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any area of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary concern.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They 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 integrating Feng shui principles, North Little Rock Arkansas interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to get the training needed to start your new profession in North Little Rock AR. Your choice will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum amount of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are available at many Arkansas trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment 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 technical and creative components of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mostly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require 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 examination.

Topics to Ask Interior Design Programs

North Little Rock Arkansas interior designer bathroomAfter you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school has to be within commuting distance from your North Little Rock AR residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the ideal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the college. Following are a few concerns 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 subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer program and college that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national 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 an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just make sure 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 college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many North Little Rock Arkansas employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do mandate that interior designers become 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 school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required also. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the North Little Rock AR program you select should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and received your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the school has a significant network of North Little Rock AR business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the North Little Rock AR schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of aid they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Some schools offer partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the North Little Rock AR programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your North Little Rock home, go to the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their experiences have been in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer program you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near North Little Rock AR, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer School near North Little Rock Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in North Little Rock ArkansasPicking the right interior design school is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive an advanced education, there are a number of factors to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess 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 North Little Rock Arkansas.