What Are the Requirements for the Interior Design Certification Exam?

To become a certified Interior designer, would-be designers are required to take the NCIDQ exam. The exam is offered twice per year, once in the spring and once in the fall. It is broken down into three parts, to be completed over the course of two days. The first two sections are multiple choice, with 150 questions in all. The third section, which completed on the second day, is a practicum. The applicant will be asked to demonstrate his or her ability to solve interior design problems and will assess if the test-taker has the skills needed to be an interior designer. The exam will cover seven aspects of interior design.

  • Building systems
  • Codes
  • Contract Administration
  • Construction Standards
  • Design Application
  • Professional Practice
  • Project coordination

Once completed, the applicant will receive their certificate of achievement. The NCIDQ gives added confidence to clients and employers when hiring interior designers for work.

Education and Experience Required

There are several steps that an applicant needs to be eligible for the exam. The first step is to graduate from a CIDA-accredited college or university with a degree in Interior design. It’s preferred that the graduate has acquired a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, however, sometimes an Associate’s degree in Interior design is acceptable if they have taken courses in a particular concentration and have paid special attention paid to interior designing course details. Along with the appropriate degree, experience hours are also required to take the NCIDQ exam. This is the second step in the process of becoming certified as an interior designer.

The hours can be determined by the type of degree chosen. However, it is about 1,760 experience hours per year of school. In some cases, the higher degree level an applicant has, the fewer experience hours is needed. This may be the case for someone that has acquired a Master’s degree in Interior Design. They need roughly 3,520 hours throughout their 2 years. On the other hand, an applicant that only has an Associate’s degree will need to have 7,040 hours within four years, before applying to take the exam. In total, the certification process should take between two-three years to complete.

The Cost for the Exam

Having the licensure is a long process and not exactly inexpensive. The applicant must fill out an application to be approved, which can take up to 6 weeks. Registering for the exam costs an applicant $295 for the initial Fundamentals exam (IDFX), $350 for the second, Professional section (IDPX), and $455 for the final section, the Practicum (PRAC). Once the registration is complete, the applicant has the choice of two exam options. There are cheaper ways of handling becoming certified for graduates of a master’s program, who have completed their experience hours. The CIDA website explains these instances in detail.

The Rewarding Achievement

The Interior Designer career path can be very lucrative and filled with many opportunities to service clients in both, residential and commercial, settings. Opening doors from both sides will enhance your professional profile and help you become a successful Interior Designer. When the experience hours and the degree are complete, and when the exam has been taken and passed, the applicant will be notified by the NCIDQ as a “Certified Interior Designer.” Every state has slightly different rules about the experience hours and degrees; however, all require a passing grade on the exam to be considered a licensed Interior Designer. Checking with the rules and regulations of your state will be helpful. It may also save an applicant time and money.