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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Benton AR

How to Enroll in the Right Interior Design Course

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Benton AR, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial interiors, it's imperative that you get 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 could need preparation to pass a licensing examination also. So it's vital that you do the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each college that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate selection. But just where do you start? Some prospective students will start their research by looking for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant issues when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. We will address those issues and other crucial 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 training options are offered.

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Interior Design vs Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Benton AR

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The main difference between the two is the level of education required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill 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 Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Benton AR may specialize in:

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

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to including Feng shui concepts, Benton Arkansas interior designers employ a wide range of skills that contribute to their final designs.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are four degree options offered in interior design to get the training needed to start your new career in Benton AR. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you decide to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in a number of states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design furnish the minimum level of training required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are offered at numerous Arkansas vocational schools and community colleges. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical facets of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree 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 design training after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to advance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Why Train to Become an Interior Designer?

Benton 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.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

Once you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important factor, especially if the college must be within commuting distance from your Benton AR home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design program and school that you choose has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Benton Arkansas employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some 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 program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Benton AR school you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. 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 an excellent indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a significant network of Benton AR business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Benton AR schools you are looking at and ask what kind of assistance they offer. A number of interior designer programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that enrolling in an accredited school is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Benton AR programs you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Benton home, visit the college and attend a few 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 Offered that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially significant if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Benton AR, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Interior Designer Program near Benton Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Benton ArkansasPicking the ideal interior design school is a crucial initial step toward starting your career in this creative and rewarding occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and cultivate your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive an advanced education, there are many things to think about before selecting a program, course or school. At a minimum, verify that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still important that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to properly review and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Benton Arkansas.