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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Pine Bluff AR

How to Select the Right Interior Design Program

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design school 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 commercial or residential interiors, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, based upon your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you carry out the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? Many future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will cover those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are interested in 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 options are offered.

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Interior Design and Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Pine Bluff AR

Some people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The principal distinction between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer requires a formal education and in a number of states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas attractive as well as functional. On some occasions they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Pine Bluff AR may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, for example color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. They need to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Pine Bluff Arkansas interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Designer Training Programs

There are four degree options available in interior design to get the training necessary to launch your new profession in Pine Bluff AR. Your selection will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have budgeted to devote to your education. But regardless of which degree program you decide to enroll in, make sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in several states. More will be addressed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training required to enter the profession. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at many Arkansas vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can typically 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 deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure 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 offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral programs are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are typically completed in three to five years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can take the licensing exam.

Online Interior Design Degree Programs

Pine Bluff AR student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to attend classes in the comfort of their Pine Bluff AR homes, there are accredited online interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online programs may be the only option if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the school you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 earn your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Pine Bluff AR residence. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options also. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the ideal degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded 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 instructors and programs. Just verify 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 college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. 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, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination in addition to a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. So besides providing an outstanding education, the Pine Bluff AR school you select should also furnish the suitable instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high 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 may also signify that the school has a significant network of Pine Bluff AR business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Contact the financial aid offices for the Pine Bluff AR schools you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they provide. Many of interior design schools offer financial aid to their new students. Various colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that selecting an accredited program is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Pine Bluff AR schools you are looking at what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Pine Bluff home, visit the school and sit in on a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly significant if you plan to continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Pine Bluff 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 process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Enroll in the Best Interior Design School near Pine Bluff Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Pine Bluff ArkansasSelecting the right interior design school is an important first step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding profession. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are many things to think about before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate final selection. And with superior training and your determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Pine Bluff Arkansas.