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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Benton AR

How to Pick the Best Interior Designer College

Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior design college near Benton AR, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's important that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you perform the proper research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your ultimate decision. But just where do you start? Some future students will launch their research by searching for interior design schools near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. We will discuss those topics and other important questions that you must ask 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 training choices are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Benton AR

Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration. The key distinction between the two is the level of education 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, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or residential spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Benton AR may specialize in:

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

There are various areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer must learn, including color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to create their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Benton Arkansas interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their final creations.
 

Interior Design Degree Options

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training needed to start your new profession in Benton AR. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make certain to choose one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum amount of training needed to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are available at many Arkansas community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that deliver more in depth training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical components of the business required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices 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 degrees are largely for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work professionally and use the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of professional experience may be required before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Topics to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

Benton Arkansas interior designer bathroomWhen you have chosen the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Benton AR home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and school that you choose has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their programs and instructors. Just confirm 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 education are excellent, it might also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Benton Arkansas employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination 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 also. So in addition to providing an exceptional education, the Benton AR school you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Arkansas or the State where you will be employed.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some help in finding your first position. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a significant network of Benton AR business relationships where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Benton AR colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of support they offer. A number of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that choosing an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Benton AR colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Benton home, go to the school and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you enroll in offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Benton AR, verify 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, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Interior Design Program near Benton Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Benton ArkansasPicking the ideal interior design program is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Locating a college where you will receive your training and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging task regardless of what field you have selected. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several 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 regarded in the business. But it is still important that you complete 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 schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with excellent training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Benton Arkansas.