The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), an independent of state and provincial credentialing bodies, provides the North American public with the means to identify interior designers who have demonstrated the minimum level of competence needed to practice interior design. In fulfillment of this purpose, NCIDQ provides a professional examination in interior design. One hundred percent of the Examination covers those aspects of the practice of interior design that affect the public's health, life safety and welfare.
NCIDQ is an organization of regulatory boards and provincial associations in the United States and Canada whose core purpose is to protect the health, life safety and welfare of the public by establishing standards of competence in the practice of interior design. NCIDQ serves to identify to the public those interior designers who have met the minimum standards for professional practice by passing the NCIDQ Examination. Completion of the NCIDQ Examination recognizes that an individual has met minimum competency standards for the practice of interior design.
Passage of the exam is a requirement for licensure in all NCIDQ member jurisdictions. The exam also serves as a qualifier for professional membership within interior design organizations and, for non-affiliates, represents a voluntary individual accomplishment.
While NCIDQ does not offer membership to individuals, professional interior designers can become Certificate holders by completing the examination process. Individuals who meet NCIDQ's eligibility requirements and pass all required sections of the NCIDQ Examination are each assigned a unique NCIDQ Certificate number. Certificate holders who pay an annual Certificate Renewal fee receive exclusive Active Certificate holder benefits and discounts.
Successful completion of the NCIDQ Examination is a prerequisite for professional registration in those American states and Canadian provinces that have enacted licensing or certification statutes to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. The NCIDQ Examination must also be passed by every interior designer applying for professional membership.
Representatives from state/provincial regulatory agencies are appointed to serve as delegates on the NCIDQ Council of Delegates for two-year terms.
Beyond the Council's responsibilities for conducting and jurying the examination in locations throughout North America, it is charged with defining, researching and updating bodies of knowledge, conducting field surveys, analyzing candidate performance, evaluating subject areas and item validity, developing and pretesting questions and problems, improving scoring, implementing grading and jurying procedures, reviewing education and practice requirements, and identifying public health, safety and welfare issues.
The Interior Design Experience Program (IDEP) is a monitored, documented experience program administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) for entry-level interior designers.
The career path of a professional interior designer involves formal education, work experience and a qualifying examination. Work experience is required of candidates for the NCIDQ Examination. State licensing boards and provincial associations require proof of high-quality, diversified interior design experience for licensure and/or registration.
IDEP assists entry-level interior designers in obtaining a broad range of quality professional experience. The program provides a structure for the essential transition between formal education and professional practice, recognizing the differences between classroom and workplace.
Conceived in the late 1960s to serve as a basis for issuing credentials to today's professional interior design practitioner, the Council has been in effect since 1972. It was formalized as a not-for-profit organization when it was incorporated in 1974. NCIDQ's founders were the American Institute of Interior Designers (AID) and the National Society of Interior Designers (NSID), two national organizations that were then preparing to merge into what became the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). All national design organizations, whose membership was made up in total or in part of interior designers, were asked to join.
The parent organizations decided that a separate council was needed to
- develop, administer and certify, through a qualifying examination, the interior design practitioner competent to practice; and
- study and present plans, programs and guidelines for the statutory licensing of interior design practitioners.
Exam fees require a minimum of $800 to become NCIDQ certified (and $60 annually to retain certification), certainly constraining for entry level interior designers and especially concerning for a nonprofit agency. The organization's defense is merely the amount of hours spent by staff and vendors to source questions. Tests are prepared and graded by volunteers, keeping organization overhead low. Because financial statements are not made publicly available, the operating costs are unavailable to be analyzed. Furthermore, many states require NCIDQ certification for interior designer jobs and there are no known competitors allowing the organization to effectively hold a monopoly over the market with soaring costs, far above market value.