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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Pine Bluff AR

How to Select the Best Interior Design Degree Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Pine Bluff 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 spaces, it's important that you get the right training to put your skills to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's vital that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your final choice. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into consideration as well. We will cover those issues and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Pine Bluff AR

Often people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The main distinction between them is the level of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer requires formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Pine Bluff AR may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently 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 instance kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally concentrate predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for banks and hospitals might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the main consideration.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to incorporating Feng shui principles, Pine Bluff Arkansas interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degrees

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training required to start your new profession in Pine Bluff AR. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at many Arkansas vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that furnish more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain 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 specialty majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to advance 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 university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and adopt 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 sit for the licensing examination.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Programs

Pine Bluff Arkansas interior designer bathroomWhen you have chosen the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of evaluating your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within commuting distance from your Pine Bluff AR residence. Of course if you are interested in attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and ultimately choose the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's imperative to make sure that the interior design college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive assessment of their instructors and programs. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, many Pine Bluff Arkansas employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, 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 requiring licensing, two or more years of occupational experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Pine Bluff AR program you choose should also furnish the proper 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 attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its graduates are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a substantial network of Pine Bluff AR business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Pine Bluff AR colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of assistance they offer. A number of interior design programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative 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 Large are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Pine Bluff AR colleges you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Pine Bluff home, visit the campus and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Pine Bluff AR, make sure that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design School near Pine Bluff Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Pine Bluff ArkansasSelecting the right interior design college is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this creative and gratifying profession. Searching for a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain a higher education, there are several factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the field. However it is still imperative that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the right final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pine Bluff Arkansas.