3 Steps to Getting Your Interior Design Certification
Filed under: Interior Design
April 13, 2018
An interior design certification can signal to potential employers and clients alike your interior design expertise and your knowledge of industry standards and codes for public health, safety, and welfare. Holding an interior design certification shows that not only do you have verified work experience and a college degree, but that you’ve also successfully demonstrated your competencies to a known industry organization.
Interior design licensure and certification requirements vary by state. For example, in some states only licensed designers are permitted to do interior design work; in others, only licensed interior designers can claim the title of interior designer. Regardless of where you live, those who hold interior design certifications are part of a select community of individuals who are passionate, dedicated, and skilled in the field of interior design.
Interested in earning your interior design certification? Here are the three steps you’ll need to follow.
Step 1: Earn your degree in Interior Design
The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam is the most common exam required in states that restrict the use of the interior designer title. Before taking this exam, you must meet specific education and work requirements. By earning a bachelor’s degree in interior design or one that includes the required amount of interior design courses, you can reduce the amount of work experience required. Check all NCIDQ education requirements and pathways here.*
If you plan to practice in California, you’ll need to take an exam administered by the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC) instead This exam also requires completing education from an accredited design program as well as work experience.
Step 2: Gain professional experience
For either of the interior design certification exams mentioned above, you’re going to need work experience. For the NCIDQ, anyone taking an education pathway involving a bachelor’s degree or higher can complete half of the required work experience before finishing their education. In the other pathways, you can only count work experience that you get after completing your education toward your experience requirements. See more about how work experience is counted toward NCIDQ requirements here.
To qualify for California’s interior design certification exam, you’ll need to meet the diversified design experience numbers and definition listed here.
Step 3: Apply for and Pass an Interior Design Certification Exam
Once you have met all education and work experience requirements, you may apply to take your state-approved interior design certification exam. When preparing your application, carefully read the application instructions, note any specified deadlines, and be sure to include all required documents.
After the organization has reviewed your application and confirmed your eligibility, you’ll be notified via email when you are approved to register for and schedule your exam. You must pass all portions of the exam in the specified timeline to earn your interior design certification.
Both NCIDQ and CCIDC provide resources for studying, so be sure to explore their websites in advance to find study guides, helpful tips, practice quizzes, and other useful tools.
Ready to pursue a career in interior design?
At The Art Institutes, our Interior Design programs can equip you with the technical and creative skills to design interior spaces that meet demanding requirements—not just in terms of aesthetics, but also safety, accessibility, and sustainability. In our rigorous, all-encompassing interior design courses, developed by innovators in industry and education, you can study everything from space planning to environmental design. In our Interior Design degree programs, you’ll be surrounded and inspired by other talented, creatively driven students and be pushed, challenged, and supported by our experienced faculty.**
Find an Interior Design degree program at an Art Institutes school near you to get started.
*The Art Institutes does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensure exams and are subject to change without notice to The Art Institutes.
**Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors.
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