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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Springdale AR

How to Choose the Right Interior Design School

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Springdale AR, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's essential that you obtain the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can assess and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you start? Some prospective students will kick off their research by looking for interior design programs near their home 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 reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. We will discuss those topics and other crucial questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Springdale AR

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The key distinction between the two is the amount of training required. Anyone can work 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 formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On various projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Springdale AR can specialize in:

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

There are several areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking wall paper and carpeting to including Feng shui concepts, Springdale Arkansas interior designers utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Programs

There are 4 degree alternatives available in interior design to receive the training needed to start your new career in Springdale AR. Your choice will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take approximately two years to finish and programs are available at numerous Arkansas community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level employment 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 creative and technical components of the business 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 provide advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.

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

Interior Designer Online Classes

Springdale AR student attending interior design school onlineFor those who wish to study in the comfort of their Springdale AR homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be a good alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more traditional options. Added costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just be sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

What to Ask Interior Design Programs

Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Springdale AR residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your options also. But picking the cheapest college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should consider as well, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you assess and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior design school and program that you choose has been accredited by 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a demanding assessment of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged 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 Springdale Arkansas employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.

Does the School Ready 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) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Springdale AR school you choose should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet 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 designer certification, you will probably need some help in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a significant network of Springdale AR business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Get in touch with the financial assistance offices for the Springdale AR colleges you are reviewing and find out what kind of aid they offer. A number of interior designer schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. It must be stressed again that selecting an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Springdale AR programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Springdale home, visit the school and attend a couple of classes. While there talk with some 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 Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design college you enroll in provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Springdale AR, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Springdale Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Springdale ArkansasChoosing the ideal interior designer college is a critical first step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Locating a school where you will receive your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Springdale Arkansas.