Interior Design Licensing and Testing

by Tim Martin
Interior Design Licensing and Testing

A rigorous educational process required in the field of interior design. Similar to the medical or law professions, the interior design field requires strict licensing and testing for its professionals because of increasing demands for more sophisticated skills.

The validation to the professional world of interior design comes with the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) test, which measures your knowledge in areas that relate to health, safety and welfare. It is the licensing equivalent to the bar exam or a medical license.

Once a designer passes the NCIDQ exam, they are eligible to be registered or licensed in the state they wish to practice. The profession is regulated at the state level because the job involves the construction of buildings, which may endanger the safety of the general public.

NCIDQ maintains a strict set of standards that must be met before you can take the exam, including 6 years of both college and full-time professional experience. However, these years can be broken up:

  • two years of college and four years of full-time experience, or
  • three years of college and three of full-time experience, or
  • four or five years of college with two years professional experience.

One way to gain the experience NCIDQ is looking for is to participate in NCIDQ's Interior Design Experience Program.

The NCIDQ test takes two days to complete, and covers seven topics pertinent to the industry:

  • Building systems
  • Codes
  • Construction standards
  • Contract administration
  • Design application
  • Project coordination
  • Profession practice

The test is administered twice a year (usually in April and October).

Related Education Information

Choosing an Interior Design School

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