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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Benton AR

How to Select the Right Interior Design College

Now that you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design degree program near Benton 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 receive the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? A number of prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design colleges near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

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Interior Decoration vs Interior Design

interior designed living room in Benton AR

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a general knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On many occasions they may collaborate with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Benton AR can 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 can specialize in designing one specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When dealing with public or commercial areas, 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 stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the primary concern.

There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as 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 carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui concepts, Benton Arkansas interior designers implement a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are 4 degree alternatives offered in interior design to get the training needed to begin your new profession in Benton AR. Your choice will undoubtedly be motivated by your career goals in addition to the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are available at many Arkansas vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level positions as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover 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 obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are largely for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are usually completed in three to five years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, 2 or more years of professional experience may be called for before a candidate can sit for the licensing exam.

What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Benton Arkansas interior designer bathroomNow that you have selected the interior design degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Benton AR residence. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from 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 receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Benton Arkansas employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the School Prep you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, a number of States do mandate 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 calling for licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an exceptional education, the Benton AR school you choose should also furnish the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some support in finding your first position. Ask the programs that you are looking at 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 regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Benton AR business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Benton AR colleges you are evaluating and find out what type of aid they offer. Many of interior designer colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Various schools offer partial scholarships and others provide help in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Benton AR programs you are looking at what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Benton home, visit the college and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior designer college you enroll in provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Benton AR, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design College near Benton Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Benton ArkansasChoosing the ideal interior design program is a critical initial step toward launching your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult job no matter what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of things to consider before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, verify that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the business. However it is still essential that you carry out your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the appropriate ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Benton Arkansas.