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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Benton AR

How to Choose the Best Interior Designer Degree Program

Once you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Benton AR, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential interiors, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your skills to work. And since several states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need preparation to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each school that you are looking at before you make your final choice. But just where do you begin? A number of future students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are important variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's talk a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.

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Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

interior designed living room in Benton AR

Often people confuse interior decoration for interior design. The primary difference between the two is the amount of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting 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 educated to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many occasions they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Benton AR can specialize in:

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

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, acoustics and furniture. Designers must 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 utilize a wide range of skills that contribute to their ultimate designs.
 

Interior Designer Degrees

There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to launch your new profession in Benton AR. Your decision will no doubt be motivated by your career goals as well as the money and time that you have to devote to your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick 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 addressed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees supply the minimum amount of education required to enter the profession. They take about 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Arkansas trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the technical and creative facets of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum 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 training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide alternatives in specialty majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are primarily for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Classes

Benton AR student attending interior design school onlineFor anyone wishing to study in the comfort of their Benton AR homes, there are online accredited interior design programs. Studying online can be a great alternative for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only alternative if no interior design colleges are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated as well. Just make certain that the college you choose is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design program may be the ideal alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Colleges

When you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your school options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus must be within driving distance from your Benton AR residence. Obviously 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 fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's imperative to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and programs. Just confirm 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 verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Benton Arkansas employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Benton AR program you enroll in should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum requirements for licensing for Arkansas or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will no doubt need some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Benton AR business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Benton AR colleges you are looking at and ask what type of support they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships while others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. In some cases a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Big are the Classes? Smaller 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 programs you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Benton home, go to the campus and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Benton AR, confirm that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.

Choose the Right Interior Design Program near Benton Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Benton ArkansasChoosing the right interior design school is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a college where you will obtain your education and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a challenging job no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of things to think about before selecting a school, program, or course. At a minimum, make sure that the design college and program are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still essential that you complete your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Benton Arkansas.