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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Pine Bluff AR

How to Select the Right Interior Designer Course

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Pine Bluff AR, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since several states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to assess and compare each school that you are considering prior to making your ultimate choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important issues when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class alternatives are available.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Pine Bluff AR

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. 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 as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Pine Bluff AR can specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any area of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with commercial or public spaces, designers often concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals 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 color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui principles, Pine Bluff Arkansas interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new career in Pine Bluff AR. Your selection will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum level of education required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at many Arkansas community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

In order to work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Colleges

Pine Bluff AR student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to study in the comfort of their Pine Bluff AR homes, there are accredited online interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the dedication to earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

Once you have decided on the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Pine Bluff AR residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your options also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you need to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately choose the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior designer school and program that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their teachers 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 organization. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, 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 Pine Bluff Arkansas employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So besides providing an excellent education, the Pine Bluff AR program you choose should also provide the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Arkansas or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some help in finding your first job. 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 high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Pine Bluff AR business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Pine Bluff AR schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Pine Bluff AR programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Pine Bluff 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 philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Pine Bluff AR, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Interior Design School near Pine Bluff Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Pine Bluff ArkansasPicking the ideal interior designer program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Finding a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a daunting job regardless of what field you have chosen. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pine Bluff Arkansas.