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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 designer 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 commercial or residential spaces, it's important that you obtain the appropriate training to put your skills to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need preparation to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a determination, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. We will address those topics and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover 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

Some people mistake interior design for interior decoration. The key difference between them is the amount of training required. Any person can work as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates formal training and in numerous states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On many projects they may work together with architects and building engineers. There are two broad areas that an interior designer in Benton 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 the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one specific room, for example kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers normally focus predominantly on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. As an example, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over appearance as the primary consideration.

There are several areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to produce their visions. From choosing wall paper and carpeting to integrating Feng shui concepts, Benton Arkansas interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.
 

Interior Designer Degree Options

There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Benton AR. Your choice will no doubt be influenced by your career objectives in addition to the money and time that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in a number of states. More will be discussed on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of training needed to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to complete and programs are available at a number of Arkansas community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can normally qualify for entry level employment 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 creative and technical aspects of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. Many students enroll to enhance their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs vary in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be called for before an applicant can take the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Degree Programs

Benton AR student attending interior design school onlineFor students who wish to study in the comfort of their Benton AR homes, there are online accredited interior design schools. Studying online can be a good solution for those students that are employed or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For some students online colleges may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated as well. Just make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design college may be the perfect option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Colleges

After you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can start the task of assessing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Benton AR residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices also. But choosing the cheapest school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently pick the appropriate degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design school and program that you choose has earned accreditation from either a regional or national agency. 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 gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Benton Arkansas employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep 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 requiring licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Benton AR school you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and satisfy the minimum requirements for licensing for Arkansas or the State where you will be working.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some help in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Benton AR business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.

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

How Large are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Benton AR schools you are reviewing what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Benton home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. While there 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 Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Benton AR, verify that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Choose the Right Interior Design College near Benton Arkansas

interior designed kitchen in Benton ArkansasChoosing the ideal interior designer college is an important first step toward launching your career in this artistic and gratifying occupation. Searching for a college where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to receive a higher education, there are a number of factors to consider before choosing a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to properly assess and compare interior design colleges so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Benton Arkansas.