California Interior Design Certification vs. National Interior Design Regulations

apples-and-oranges

The California Council for Interior Design Certification is due to be reviewed by the California Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee in March.

Why should we care?

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has posted several times before that, since California is the largest state in the Union and they have the largest number of interior designers…both qualified and self-proclaimed, what goes on in regard to the profession of Interior Design in that state affects all of us.

Unfortunately, IN MY NOT SO HUMBLE OPINION, the current quasi-private voluntary self-certification system that California has implemented is flawed on several levels.  The most prominent flaw being that it stands in direct conflict with the regulatory effort of the other 49 states in the Union as they endeavor to implement legal recognition for those designers who have earned the right to be recognized for their skills and knowledge required to legally protect the Health Safety and Welfare of the public.  You see California is unique in that it has its own qualifying exam, the IDEX. An exam that the CCIDC admits virtually anybody can qualify to take.  It seems that education and experience do not count for much if anything. Let’s just say that the bar to claim California CID credentials has been intentionally lowered so as not to be an “unreasonable barrier” to become a certified interior designer.

Now I will admit that the overarching concept of a profession that self-regulates is a positive attribute of California’s Interior Design Certification model.  But that’s it. The rest has devolved into a weak (at best) validation process for anybody with the time and money who would like to buy the CID credential.

Some brief history.  Upon its inception in 1991 the CCIDC allowed the NCIDQ to be one of the qualifying exams for certification. However the low pass rates and high costs for the NCIDQ proved problematic for the CCIDC and its subsequent infiltration of anti-ID regulation proponents- AKA the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and the Interior Design Society (who administers the equally flacid CQRID exam).  In the anti-regulatory free market political environment of the time (and let’s not forget the sunny location) the tide was turning against the NCDQ and its professional supporters ASID and IIDA.  In their 2003 Sunset Review the CCIDC was provided an out to rethink its testing model

“After the last Sunset Review for CCIDC in 2003, the legislature amended Section 5811 of the BPC to read as follows:

“5811. An interior design organization issuing stamps under Section 5801 shall provide the Joint Committee on Boards, Commissions, and Consumer Protection by September 1. 2008, a report that reviews and assesses the costs and benefits associated with the California Code and Regulations Examination (CCRE) and explores feasible alternatives to that examination.”

So under the guise of the CCRE exam being usurped by newer codes the CCIDC saw an opportunity to completely sidestep the NCIDQ and create its own exam-the IDEX.  Which they claim tests its candidates on California specific seismic, Title 24, and other supposed unique building codes. Even though California C.I.D.’s are not allowed to sign and seal any permit documents entailing structural or seismic work.

In 2008 the CCIDC decided to create their own exam the IDEX with the tacit reasoning that other interior design professional exams did not adequately address California specific codes   – “thus removing significant costs and barriers to entry to the profession”. With pass rates between 8 and 9 of every 10 test candidates…let me repeat 84%-94% of all test takers (88% Ave. over the past 3 years) pass the IDEX exam…So in this regard the CCIDC has been very successful at “removing barriers to entry into the profession”. Some “profession” that is- why even bother?

While the marginal professional standards by which the CCIDC claims its certified designer comply is concerning there does not appear to be much benefit to the credential once it is paid for. The CCIDC admits that its certificate holders are often denied building permits and that their credential is often not recognized as legitimate by local code officials. Gee I wonder why?  Could it be that the code officials are actually dubious of the patently lowered standards to obtain their quasi-professional credential?  Which also is the trademarked credential Certified Interior Decorator (http://www.cidinternational.org/ ) BUT WHO’S COUNTING?

So with that California has created what appears to this ID regulation wonk as an ineffective standard for interior design professional status that stands directly in the way of any type of nationwide reciprocal Interior Design regulation.

NOTE TO CALIFORNIA JOINT LEGISLATIVE SUNSET REVIEW COMMITTEE: If you are going to have professional standards why not make the candidates prove that they have actually earned the right to sit for an exam that properly vets that knowledge?  Reinstate the NCIDQ as a qualifier for California CID’s and at least raise the bar a notch or two…or will that exceed the acceptable height for seismic codes?

Here is a link to the CCIDC’s response to the usual Sunset Review Commission queries.

http://www.ccidc.org/pdf/BPED-CCIDC-Oversight-Report-Form-Linked-2012.pdf

16 thoughts on “California Interior Design Certification vs. National Interior Design Regulations

    • I ask because you are a great defender of NCIDQ “only” so my guess is that you have taken and passed NCIDQ. Not only are you closed to anything else, you seem to take great pleasure in bashing California’s law for certified interior designers. As an educator I would hope that you would have a more open mind but maybe that kind of thinking is not well regarded in Kansas?

  1. I knew that this post would raise the ire of at least one person. I stand by my opinions of California’s Interior Design certification process and I don’t care how my thinking is regarded here in Kansas- or any where else in the world for that matter. If you do not agree with my opinion I urge you to tell me why. If you are just going to try to lay some shame on me because you don’t like what I am saying, or how I am saying it, then….well then you are welcome to take that route as well. I will assume you cannot provide a reasonable counter.

    I am open to being proven wrong and if your counterpoint is a better idea to move the entire profession forward I promise you I will embrace it. Self-certification is something I have often touted as a way for our entire profession to self-regulate itself before it moves into the ring of legal regulation. BUT……we all have to accept that one has to earn professional status, like every other profession in this country, through a process of education, experience and examination. Professional status should be a choice…but it should not be sold to all comers simply to claim a title. Thanks for visiting.

  2. P.S. I never suggested that IDEX be replaced but that other exams like the NCIDQ be allowed to be used as an equal alternative. What’s the harm?

    To answer your queries about my qualifications please see the ABOUT ME tab above.

  3. Michael, Michael, Michael;
    Where do I start (that is the question) to set you straight on the actual facts of this issue? Well it’s going to take more than one reply, as I have a business to run – Therefore, I will respond to your inaccuracies, half-truths and miss-information over the course of several posts. I will keep the replies in the order you set forth in your post, as not to confuse anyone who may be interested in reading this stuff. For the sake of full disclosure, I was the chief negotiator (for the then) whole interior design coalition in California when the CID law was being legislated in 1990.

    First – let’s look at what California created twenty some years ago. The California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC) was established as one of the first public/ private partnership in the state to provide public health, safety and welfare protection, there are four more now, and even the California Building Officials (CALBO) mirrored our law to certify building department staff. You say “it stands in direct conflict with the regulatory effort of the other 49 states in the union”. As you know, licensing, registration and certification are a state’s rights issue with every state making their own law(s) – As reciprocity from state to state does not actually exist for any profession; I don’t buy your argument. To that point, the Interior Design Examination – California (IDEX) may be taken by anyone who meets the “minimum competency at entry level” which is the standard the State of California uses for all examinations (including the ARE and the Bar Exam) as stated by the DCA Examination Validation Policy, prepared by the Office of Examination Resources, directed by Section 139 of the Business and Professions (B&P) Code. Minimum competency at entry level and experience is the mandate prescribed by the State and embraced by most State Boards. No education, just experience and in most cases under a suitably licensed professional. This policy is for taking a professional examination, it does not automatically grant licensure. The candidate is still required to meet a licensing board’s other requirements to become licensed. CCIDC follows this state standard.

    More later……………

  4. Rayne Rayne Rayne- On the issue of reciprocity you said;
    “As reciprocity from state to state does not actually exist for any profession; I don’t buy your argument.”

    Gee that’s funny the NCARB says it exists. http://www.ncarb.org/en/Certification-and-Reciprocity/Reciprocity-Overview.aspx

    Oh and just for your reading enjoyment here is a state be state summary of reciprocity for P.E.’s
    State by State Reciprocity Information for Engineers*
    (With state statute citations)
    Note: Applications to multiple states can be facilitated by submitting a form to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). (800) 250-3196.

    COMMENT EDITED FOR BREVITY See the link below for state by state reciprocity issues;
    http://www.contractscentral.org/staterequirements/index.cfm

    Reciprocity does not exist??????…..You can disagree with me but don’t insult me.

    On the issue of the exam you said;
    “…..Interior Design Examination – California (IDEX) may be taken by anyone who meets the “minimum competency at entry level” which is the standard the State of California uses for all examinations (including the ARE and the Bar Exam) as stated by the DCA Examination Validation Policy, prepared by the Office of Examination Resources, directed by Section 139 of the Business and Professions (B&P) Code. Minimum competency at entry level and experience is the mandate prescribed by the State and embraced by most State Boards. No education, just experience and in most cases under a suitably licensed professional.”

    Speaking of half truths Rayne- No “most State Boards” that regulate the building design professions are far more stringent regarding education than you lead us to believe (Don’t make me list each state board’s education thresholds). Maybe hair braiders and dog groomers have some more lenient education requirements but not RA’s and PE’s. Yes California does have lower qualifying standards to sit for the ARE than most other states. But to be fair to my non- architect degree holding readers who think they can simply move to California, establish residency and sit for the Architects Registration Exam there is much more to it as noted here http://www.cab.ca.gov/candidates/are.shtml

    Now back to the main point that California’s threshold for those wishing to take the IDEX is far less restrictive/rigorous than any other state that regulates the title of interior designer, or practice of interior design. Not to mention the laughingly high pass rate for those few who do decide to be a CID..as discussed by the CCIDC report on pages 16-17 here; http://www.ccidc.org/pdf/BPED-CCIDC-Oversight-Report-Form-Linked-2012.pdf I know you in the anti-regulation crowd see California’s open door policy as a revolutionary egalitarian solution to distinguish the qualified from the not, but those of us on the mainland who have endeavored to raise the bar of professional status simply see it as an ineffective sieve that welcomes all comers regardless of their qualifications. Like I said why bother?

    I know you will advocate for the sovereign nation of California’s constitutional right to regulate its interior designers as it wishes despite the overwhelming tide of those states adopting the NCIDQ as the baseline test of competency. I respect that right. I think it’s self-centered and self-serving at the expense of the larger professional domain but hey WTF do I know? I am just stupid enough to believe that we should be one profession, with one professional organization to advocate for us, and we should have rigorous education/experience requirements with one exam to vet our baseline competence. The majority of the US seems to agree with me. What’s wrong with California?

  5. P.S. I will acknowledge and apologize for the original title of this post. I still maintain that there is a chasm between the two qualification models. More importantly the California CID model stands as a road block to a unified nationwide professional domain. I also acknowledge and apologize for my temporary slide into Patti Morrow-ish mudslinging. Thanks for calling me out Rayne. But I am still right 😉

  6. 2-20-2013 Reply

    Michael, Michael;
    I am glad you brought it up – the short answer is California aspiring Architects take the same ARE exam as other states, BUT, since you opened the door – the California Architects Board some years ago walked away from the ARE and created their own exam – imagine that – as I remember, it had something to do with the ARE not being stringent enough on California Codes and not recognizing California’s experience only criteria. (Think IDEX) They subsequently returned to the ARE in later years.

    Now back to our original discussion – you state in part “However the low pass rates and high costs for the NCIDQ proved problematic for the CCIDC” The actual fact is the State of California had the problem, CCIDC and NCIDQ were “left twisting in the wind” during and after the Sunset Review Hearing. The CCIDC was actually de-certified and it took a monumental effort by the design community and a sympathetic State Senator to re-attain certification. It was after that, the State of California basically said to CCIDC if you are going to offer a national exam, you must offer all national exams that are psychometrically equivalent. CCIDC hired a psychometric consultant who researched the three national exams and concluded “psychometrically they are equal” That is not to say they test for the same things, but based on the States criteria, they are equal.

    You additionally state in part “So under the guise of the CCRE exam being usurped by newer codes the CCIDC saw an opportunity to completely sidestep the NCIDQ” The actual facts, again – Mostly, due to the infighting the Interior Design Profession had gone through back then, and the change from the Uniform Building Code (UBC) to the International Building Code (IBC) known as the California Building Code (CBC), the CCIDC Board of Directors decided to create an Interior Design Examination exclusive to California. The IDEX – California was launched in 2009 and replaced all three national exams and the CCIDC established California Codes and Regulations Exam (CCRE). The new Exam tests specifically for knowledge of California Codes and other pertinent Interior Design Criteria. The Exam Task Force was comprised of Certified Interior Designers and Educators, an Architect, Building and Fire Department Officials and a General Contractor and was facilitated and led by Castle Worldwide. In the interest of full disclosure, I was a part of the Task Force.

    More later…………….

  7. Rayne Rayne your historical perspective is welcomed-really….Those readers that have hung on this long deserve differing points of view on this subject. I appreciate the history on the ARE…..interesting and very relevant. Please continue if you must. BUT…………………….

    To the point of the post. The California CID credential is an anomaly that stands in the way of a unified, national (or even North American) professional interior design domain. Now we can debate how we got here until we’re both skeletons banging away on our qwerty keys. So let’s focus on the disparity. Answer me this;

    Where do you see the CCIDC regulatory model as it fits in an effort to create a unified nationwide professional interior design domain with one credential, one professional organization (or at least regulatory and professional organizations that have mutual objectives to support each other), one accepted education/experience/examination professional validation process and one regulatory objective- to be considered peers with other REGISTERED/REGULATED BUILDING DESIGN PROFESSIONS?

  8. Michael,

    Once again, the history of legislation for interior design seems missed. While your perspective is that California is a road block, at the time it was created, it was a large step in the advancement of the rights of California interior designers and was a leading-edge example of progress and opportunity for the other 49 states. At the time, the late 1980’s, there was little national conversation on leglslative advancement. There was no clearinghouse for legislative information, sharing, nor legal language development. There was no support from national organizations, no professionals nor consultants on staff. There was no model legislation in any state of the United States, and even though Alabama had established legislation, at the time, you would have considered it “experimental”. We were forming the foundation for legislative rights for interior designers and the national drive for those rights had not yet occured. And, there were no code related questions delivered through the NCIDQ examination.

    But, in California, with the sheer volume of work in the world’s 5th largest economy, it was clear to the numerous collection of practicing interior designers in California that a long term path for career continuance did not exist. This was a result of the common practice of interior designers working within and underneath architects in architectural practices. We could work with a client from the moment of their imagining that they wanted to relocate or build their business, and prepare all of their construction documents, but we had to turn to an architect in our offices to get the drawings stamped; in other words, to legitimize our work. It was wholly wrong. We found that this plight was shared across all interior design practice areas from residential to retail to corporate work.

    After years of preparation, we approached the government and lobbied for our cause. Our goal was a practice act, but we didn’t achieve that. The best we could negotiate with a republican governor in the State of California was a public-private partnership with an independent Certification Board, rather than adding more government and cost.

    California’s model, because of its inclusive nature to not limit the practice of any design professional has added to its strength and longevity. If you were to take input from any legislator in any state of the union, you will find that they are inclined to not limit any of their constituents any rights. The addition of any legislation during this period of time is to create consumer protections while not restricting any person’s right.

    Your preposition that anyone can buy their way into interior design is false.
    Can anyone buy their way into the ARE? Can anyone buy their way into the NCIDQ? Of course they can. One can purchase a college education from numerous schools and universities, as well as write the check to submit for the examination. The part of the equation that you’re glossing over is performance. One must pass the examination. Without the proper education, training, experience and industry knowledge, one cannot pass the ARE, the NCIDQ nor the IDEX. LIke the BAR examination for attorneys, passing that examination is the essential and sole criteria for determining one’s demonstrated ability to meet a minimum criteria in order to practice as a certified interior designer in the State of California.

    California certification not only had the right foundational philosophy to be accepting and universal to the varied practice areas of the profession of interior design, but it has evolved to remain steadfastly committed to the longevity of a career and the rights of practicing interior designers. While there remain factions who attempt to dominate interior design and retract any advancements that we might gain in any state of the U.S., it is clear that the women-normed profession of interior design will not cease in our fight for our rights.

    California’s certification was visionary at its formation; it has survived for more than 20 years, insuring the practice of an entire generation of interior designers and inspiring the next. The evolution in practice advancement over those 20 years is significant, building strength in client relationships and political influence. Its ability to increase over time its power to protect the right to practice interior design in California will continue, despite any temporary set backs. Why? The law of supply and demand. California has for one hundred years sought out interior design as a component part of its economic strategy toward building the image and reality of successful people and places. We are the birthplace of creativity and cultural creatives like Disney, Diebenkorn and Gehry. The interior designers leading the evolution of California certification have consistently attempted to work collaboratively with national groups and testing organizations, while the reverse has not been true. It is the limitations of others who have separated themselves from an inclusive philosophy and responsive nature that may, in fact, lead to their own economic downfall.

    Certainly not a road block, but perhaps, a road to the future if one is willing to climb over a few rocks that appear to be obstacles AND start working together. The orange and the apple image is exactly right. We have moved from the idea of self-survival on a state by state basis to now having a national conscience about the profession of interior design. Stay mindful of the fact that all designers who are practicing are working daily at surviving. While comparison is healthy, rather than blogging about the shortcomings of different ideas that have evolved over time, if one cares about our profession and one another, shouldn’t we be supportive and finding the good? Might lower the collective stress and increase the speed to future advances.

    Hey Mike, you’ll have as much fun picking apart the architect’s licensing laws from state to state if you dig deep, and the REALITIES of architectural reciprocity, to which Rayne was referring. Start a blog on either and weI’ll be happy to chime in.

  9. Ahh yes Janice welcome to the discussion…..

    Let’s look at a few of your points a little deeper (from my POV at least);

    “At the time, the late 1980′s, there was little national conversation on leglslative advancement”

    That depends on your definition of “a little”. As I was practicing in Florida at the time I was well aware of the legislative efforts in Alabama, Florida and even Puerto Rico. You are correct that there was no “clearinghouse for legislative information, sharing, nor legal language development”. I counter that there still isn’t but there was, like now, a pretty aggressive grass roots effort to own, via regulation, the title “interior design” and “interior designer” . We all saw how well that particular legal hiccup got us. Just for grins if there was a central “clearinghouse” for ID “legislative information” where would the CCIDC fit in that model?

    “If you were to take input from any legislator in any state of the union, you will find that they are inclined to not limit any of their constituents any rights. The addition of any legislation during this period of time is to create consumer protections while not restricting any person’s right.”

    Politically speaking I don’t disagree. But we both know that regulation of any sort is like running up a slippery slope with a double edge sword and by its very nature it is restrictive and often exclusive. Our job as we create our profession is to make sure it does not intentionally exclude or infringe on people’s rights. I believe that was the greatest take away for the profession post Locke v. Shore. We still have a way to go so that all legislative efforts frame their legalese to strategically avoid any infringement but even I believe we are close….but then there is California……..

    “The part of the equation that you’re glossing over is performance. One must pass the examination.”

    Again don’t disagree but that is not what I said. I said that the qualifications to sit for the IDEX specifically are….let’s say minimal at best. Add into that the exceedingly high pass rate (by the CCIDC’s own numbers) and you have what I call that a pretty low threshold to attain professional status. What you might term inclusive and unrestrictive I see as an easy ‘A’. Why bother? (not a rhetorical question BTW)

    “While there remain factions who attempt to dominate interior design and retract any advancements that we might gain in any state of the U.S., it is clear that the women-normed profession of interior design will not cease in our fight for our rights.”

    I won’t touch the gender card issue but don’t you think a unified professional domain stands a better chance of creating a critical mass of professional/legal inertia that would benefit all of us…..female, gay, straight middle aged white guy?

    “The interior designers leading the evolution of California certification have consistently attempted to work collaboratively with national groups and testing organizations, while the reverse has not been true. It is the limitations of others who have separated themselves from an inclusive philosophy and responsive nature that may, in fact, lead to their own economic downfall.”

    Okay Okay put down the pom poms and megaphone for a second. Are you saying that if we (the rest of the nation vis-à-vis ASID & the various ID coalitions) don’t follow California’s model then we are doomed? Wow.

    “While comparison is healthy, rather than blogging about the shortcomings of different ideas that have evolved over time, if one cares about our profession and one another, shouldn’t we be supportive and finding the good? Might lower the collective stress and increase the speed to future advances.”

    Well if we don’t address the shortcomings, and limitations (and there are many), of our effort to establish a singular and unified professional domain…then we are slowly leading each other toward our ‘own economic downfall”. That ain’t gonna happen on my watch.
    Again I am more than happy to embrace a model of professional advancement that makes sense for all of us. Right now I am not seeing it.
    THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENTS.

  10. Oh and P.S. My question still stands unanswered;

    Where do you see the CCIDC regulatory model as it fits in an effort to create a unified nationwide professional interior design domain with one credential, one professional organization (or at least regulatory and professional organizations that have mutual objectives to support each other), one accepted education/experience/examination professional validation process and one regulatory objective- that is to be considered peers with other REGISTERED/REGULATED BUILDING DESIGN PROFESSIONS?

  11. would either of you two women mind if i cited this information for a paper i am writing about ‘Interior Design-discriminated and fighting for recognition’. Not sure how to title it exactly but you get the point.

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