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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Pine Bluff AR

How to Choose the Right Interior Designer College

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Pine Bluff AR, it's time to start the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's essential that you receive the right training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you do the proper research in order to assess and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final selection. But just where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are important factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will discuss those issues and other crucial questions that you should be asking 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 available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Pine Bluff AR

Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, working as an interior designer requires formal training and in a number of states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Pine Bluff AR may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Pine Bluff Arkansas interior designers utilize a wide variety of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to receive the training required to begin your new profession in Pine Bluff AR. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career goals in addition to the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are offered at a number of Arkansas vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced design training after acquiring a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Why Become an Interior Designer?

Pine Bluff AR student attending interior design school onlineThere are many options available to you once you graduate and enter the field of interior design.  If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit you may become self-employed and open your own interior design shop. You might also work for a small or larger design firm. Designers have careers creating interiors for businesses, hospitals, government buildings, as well as private residences. Rarely is a design career a 9 to 5 job. You’ll need to be flexible, patient, and persistent to get your career off the ground. But you will have the opportunity to earn an attractive income as well as the personal satisfaction of creating beautiful living and working spaces.

Questions to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Now that you have selected the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Pine Bluff AR residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to home are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you need to look at as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design school and program that you select 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 obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Pine Bluff Arkansas employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Pine Bluff AR program you select should also furnish the appropriate instruction 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 College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably need some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the programs 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 indication that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Pine Bluff AR business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid departments for the Pine Bluff AR colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. In some cases a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pine Bluff AR colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Pine Bluff home, go to the school and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pine Bluff AR, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Interior Designer Program near Pine Bluff Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Pine Bluff ArkansasPicking the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are many things to consider before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. But it is still imperative that you complete your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pine Bluff Arkansas.