33 thoughts on “Ask Me a Question

  1. I have heard that NCIDQ is adding an eligibility path based on experience? this change will be annouced this fall 2012? Does anyone have any information about the criteria? thanks!


    1. Good Question Burt;
      Following is what I know about the Broadly Experienced Interior Designer program. This is about a year old so I suggest that you call the NCIDQ office (202-721-0220) to see if the BEID has been officially approved and when it will come into affect. HOPE THIS HELPS-

      Much has been written about what NCIDQ has or has not proposed regarding our standards for the Certificate. Let me take this opportunity to clarify. For three years NCIDQ has been investigating the possibility of adding a path to eligibility for the Examination that would accommodate individuals who do not meet our current eligibility requirements but still possess the same competencies as those who meet the current requirements. We are tentatively calling this the “Broadly Experienced Interior Designer” program, or “BEID.”

      1. Nothing has been decided. NCIDQ has charged a task force of volunteers to investigate this possibility. This is something we do with all potential new programs or requirements. We start with research, then build a draft program and then test that program. We are currently conducting a pilot test of this possible new eligibility path. After all steps in our investigation are complete, the NCIDQ Board of Directors will have the options to adopt the new requirements, not adopt them or send work back to the task force for further investigation. At this time, there is no change to our requirements.

      2. NCIDQ’s requirements for the Certificate include meeting an educational standard, meeting an experience standard and meeting an examination standard. Once a person successfully satisfies all three standards he or she is awarded the NCIDQ Certificate. The proposed BEID program is intended to cure educational deficiencies only. In other words, we are looking for a way to qualify individuals who, through many life events, have not had the opportunity to satisfy one of our current educational requirements or cannot adequately document their education. Some examples of the individuals caught in this situation are listed in #6 below.

      3. In order to “cure an educational deficiency” an applicant to NCIDQ will be required to meet a higher standard of proof of interior design competence than anyone who currently applies for eligibility to NCIDQ through our current policies. Therefore, the new requirements, if they ever come into effect, will be a higher standard than any of our current standards. (Not lower, as some have asserted.) The new standard will require every individual who applies under this requirement to demonstrate that he or she has achieved competencies in each CIDA-based standard currently in effect. For current applicants with a CIDA-accredited degree, NCIDQ does not ask to see the work of every graduate to ensure that he or she has met every one of CIDA’s standards for accreditation. It’s possible to earn a CIDA-accredited degree and be a D+ student. NCIDQ’s new requirements, if they come into effect, will require a dossier from applicants that shows how and when they achieved competency in each CIDA standard. This will be a significant commitment for each person who elects to undertake this hurdle toward achieving the NCIDQ Certificate.
      4. NCIDQ makes every effort to not discriminate with all of our standards and requirements. For the Examination, we have policies in place that accommodate candidates with various disabilities that might prevent them from demonstrating their true abilities without accommodations on the test. For the experience requirement, we do not place maximum time frames on when experience can be earned so that we do not discriminate against applicants who have a hard time finding work, or who take time off from their careers for a family. (Some professions do enforce maximum time frames.) With education, we currently allow six different types of degree programs, but we currently can’t accept an applicant who fell one or two semester hours short of meeting our requirements even if he or she was awarded a degree. We also can’t accommodate those who graduated from schools that no longer exist and for whom there is no possibility of getting a transcript.

      5. In doing our research, we learned that many professions have methods for accommodating deficiencies in one or more requirements. In the architecture profession, where we are commonly compared, there are two programs called the “Broadly Experienced Architect” and the “Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect” in the United States. NCIDQ’s member regulatory boards in the U.S. include a dozen joint boards that regulate both interior design and architecture. These members of NCIDQ have asked NCIDQ to investigate a possibility of bringing our requirements into alignment with those of the architecture profession. That is one reason that we began this research.

      6. As noted above, some people who have spent many years working in the interior design profession got there through a variety of means. Here are some examples of individuals who have been denied eligibility to the Examination. We believe that the new program, if it comes into effect, will assist them in becoming eligible for consideration:
      A. Graduated with a degree in “environmental design” in the 1970s when that was a common term to catch all design fields. The school is no longer in business and we cannot get a copy of course descriptions to determine which courses on the transcript were interior design-focused. The transcript does not refer to the courses as “interior design.”

      B. Graduated with a degree in interior design from a school outside the United States or Canada, where “transcripts” as we know them in this country are not issued and no record of an individuals’ coursework is kept by the school, only the award of the degree.

      C. Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interior design from a program not accredited by CIDA and with fewer than 60 semester hours of interior design related coursework. This person could wait and work in the field at least four years (thereby meeting our current requirement for applicants with a 40-semester hour certificate, degree or diploma), but wants to apply after two years of work experience.

      D. Attended a full interior design degree program as an “audit” student, because he or she was never aware that courses not taken for credit would not be counted toward eligibility for NCIDQ.
      7. If this new requirement comes into effect, it will only help applicants cure educational deficiencies. They still have to meet our experience requirements and they still have to take and pass all sections of the NCIDQ Examination before they will be awarded the NCIDQ Certificate.

      8. Finally, NCIDQ’s member regulatory boards will continue to establish their own standards for licensure which may be different than those for the NCIDQ Certificate. This is an opportunity for individuals to gain their NCIDQ Certificate to demonstrate their competencies to clients, employers, and the like. It will not be a guarantee that any particular state or provincial regulatory board will grant this individual the right or privilege to practice within that jurisdiction’s standards, or that any professional association will accept that individual for membership.


  2. So this interior decorator, interior designer and interior architect walk into a bar……
    I’m joking…….or am I?

    They all order their drinks…the decorator admires the color of the cocktail, the designer admires the ergonomic quality of the cocktail glass and the interior architect questions the relationship of the cocktail to the architectural character of the bar.

    Badda Boom! Thanks folks I’ll be here all week don’t forget to tip your waitresses- have a good night!


  3. 1. Do you think peoples confusion with interior design and interior decoration will ever go away? And is HGTV all to blame?

    2. Do you think the interior design organizations cater to woman? Lots of events they sponsor are female centered. Also awhile back the IIDA Facebook page posted a link about dressing for an interview. Upon clicking the link it was all for women… Not that I need help dressing myself its just a little alienating.


  4. 1a. No. Design was born from Decoration. The two will always be maternally connected and related. The only way for professional interior designers to distinguish themselves cleanly from decoration is to create a new professional paradigm that has no genetic connection with decoration. Hence the effort to use the term interior architecture to describe what we do and interior architects to describe who we are. I am not willing to go that far…yet. I think the profession can tweak the meaning of ID to provide it’s own identity or branch of the family tree. It will take time.

    1b. No. HGTV is simply reinforcing the interconnectedness of the two occupations explained above because that is the societal understanding/expectation of who we are and what we do. Blaming HGTV for our own identity crisis is like blaming God for our professional misfortunes. We can complain and blame till we are blue in the face- ain’t gonna change a thang. If we had our own network we could probably counter their message but I can barely manage my own blog.

    2. Welcome to my world….Seriously though, it is what it is. Males are the minority in this profession and straight males even more so. Fortunately I like women…and gay men…..but not in the same way I like women….Oh never mind. I do miss the male-centric water cooler discussions though. I am sure if you needed help getting dressed you would find plenty of help.

    Thanks for your support Jason.


  5. I am considering the independent study Interior Design course via NYIAD as a path to CID and doing interior decorating work. While I would like to pursue credentials as an actual interior designer, I am not sure that I am financially able to do a second BA/BS (I have a BA in Psych and an MA in Teaching)…not to mention, my “day job” doesn’t permit time to attend physical classes (100% travel). What is your opinion of the NYIAD course and CID certification?


  6. I in no way promoted NYIAD- Just because it is referenced does not mean I promote it.

    Kandra you do not need an education to become an interior decorator nor do you need an education to become a residential designer.

    You can believe those who sell education credits or you can believe somebody who has no vested interest in the subject. Now if you are serious about becoming an interior design professional who needs to be so educated, apprenticed and examined, then yes an education is necessary and NYAID won’t cut it. Don’t know how much clearer I can say it.


  7. Hi Michael,

    You’ve basically answered my question about NYIAD in your March reply to Kandra, but you wrote that if someone is “serious about becoming an interior design professional who needs to be so educated, apprenticed and examined, then yes an education is necessary”- could you possibly expand on that?

    Does this mean that the learning theory of interior design is moot, or is it simply that it is a base that can be learned from extensive research, interviews, books on ID, versus a university degree/diploma/online education? Or should not so young people who want to become designers, but have no educational background (like myself), then make the commitment to go back and do a full bachelor’s degree, if we want the education?

    Also -so sorry for all the questions- but what are your thoughts on people entering the ID field as a career now- has it become too saturated? are there going to be fewer opportunities? (I currently live in South East Asia, so maybe it’s a different scenario here).

    Thanks for taking the time to answer!


  8. Hello Ying,
    First NO….. theory is not moot and I believe academia, or higher education, is the logical place to build a foundation of knowledge that includes, theory, history, proper investigative/inquiry and problem solving skills.

    If your goal is to practice Interior Design at the highest level, say in hospitality, retail, healthcare or general commercial interiors, then you will find success much quicker, and make yourself more marketable, if you have the proper education. In the U.S. and some other nations licensure is becoming a factor as well.

    Now there are exceptions to this rule. Many high level designers have learned the trade simply by apprenticeship, perseverance, extreme self promotion skills and a whole lot of luck. But as technology and society become more complicated that pathway is becoming more unlikely.

    Ultimately if your career goal is not to practice at this level then yes it is certainly possible to achieve success without an education.

    As to your last question “has it become too saturated?”. I can only answer if design is your passion and your goal is to help improve peoples lives through the power of design- then no…there is lots of room for you.

    Hope that helps. Great questions. Good Luck


  9. This may not be a valid question. My apologies beforehand.
    Is there such an issue as a historical concept of “Interior Design” or an “aesthetic foundation” to what we call Interior design?
    I seem to remember a photograph a long time ago when I took an elective from the Interior Design Dept. of my art school that showed the ruins of an ancient greek house with holes in the floor for where the furniture was to go. (I think it was part of an article on recreating the greek furniture. this would be in the mid 60s of the last century).
    I ask, because it would seem that an historical or aesthetic foundation would be a place to build from. A basic question I would ask if there were such a foundation would be, “What is the human motivation to organize and arrange the living environment relative to Interior Design?”
    I’m sure it sue it shows, but I’m not in the field of Interior Design but have art history and aesthetics as well as general design as concentrations in my Fine Arts diploma. (Found you from LinkedIn).


  10. Stephen…..Hmmmm good question.
    To answer your question regarding historical precedent, which I am not an expert, there are several good texts that will cover everything from the cave paintings at Lascaux to the beginnings of Interior Design as know it now. Our role in the shaping of interior space throughout history is actually well documented.
    That said, while we need to know where we’ve been to know where we are going, I think we are at a turning point in our history (geographical pun intended) in which we need to create our own history. Thanks for stopping by- happy to discuss further.


  11. Here’s something I have not been able to find any discussion of online and I could really use some advice on: I’m in the lighting design business, which has similarities to the interior design process. We have potential clients that sometimes ask for example images for their fixture needs that they will use to determine if they will hire us or not. Once we give them that, of course they never call us back because they are then shopping for this item themselves. How do you politely and clearly correct a potential client’s error in crossing the line on what they can (and should ask) versus what they should not ask prior to hiring us? As of now we say that is part of the consultation process, but that we are happy to give them references and to feel free to browse our portfolios (which we email them). This doesn’t seem to work. As of now, we have a 0% success rate for anybody that asks this question whereas we have a great success rate with people that do not ask this question. So obviously we’re saying something wrong.


    1. Okay Ryan don’t take this the wrong way but stop showing your hand. Do you have contracts or are you going on faith? Keep the sales pitch ambiguous (do not show cut sheets & specific product information) until you agree to a scope and a fee. Your contract should include language about ownership/copyright information. If you are going simply on faith you will just have to deal with the unfaithful.


      1. Thank you for the response. We have full contracts for our various services, all attorney approved. I think you misunderstood my question. We experimented with indulging a few clients some years ago with examples images because it is a common question and we have poor sales numbers with people that ask this exact question prior to contract, but it was unsuccessful and we do not continue to do this. We definitely do not show our hand, but we will experiment new strategies to see if they can increase sales in a particular market or decrease wasted time.

        The question is on how to tell a prospective client that they cannot have example images until a contract is signed. You know… pleasant, non-accusatory, but making it clear that it isn’t correct to ask for images at that stage. We want their business if we can, but our statement on non-disclosure seems to turn this particular client type away. I was hoping, because you have a similar type of job, that perhaps you get this question (or similar) asked to you as well and you have a strategy for handling it. I’ve seen a lot about what not to tell people ahead of contract, but nothing at all on how to address people that ask these types of questions.


  12. Ryan thanks for the clarification. I am certainly not an expert at the issue you posed. This seems to be more of an art of negotiation deal than a design services issue. All I can say is that if you are strategic about the level of information and detail that you provide a client to close a deal and when necessary take a firm stance against providing specifications/intellectual property that the client has not paid for then you are doing what you should be doing. That may include being firm with a prospective client and offering them the information with a signed contract or allow them to walk.
    Now if you are talking about a client (or client’s contractor) shopping your specifications that is a problem that the IALD in particular has addressed and you can get information from their website.


  13. Hi! My name is Francis and I’m already 28 y/o. I am thinking of going back to school again and take a new course that I am really interested with -well, a sort of career shift. I’m currently working as an accountant. I am eyeing for Interior Design course because I think it will develop my creativity and passion for the arts, at the same time I think that it is something that I would really enjoy doing. I’m not a very artistic person and not skilled that much but I think I have potentials awaiting to be developed. Now, one of my major concerns is the fact that I’m working. I have read some articles that being an ID student will require a lot of time in a day. Maybe you can share some advice? Thank you.


    1. That depends Francis. If you want to focus on residential design and decoration there are many on-line and on-site (depending where you live) courses that you can take to fit your schedule. If you have plans to work on larger more commercial projects then yes you will need to dedicate time to earn a four year degree. I am happy to help direct you in the right direction if you wish. Thanks for posting.


      1. I cannot see my way to a four year degree for two reasons…one I already have a four year degree, and the cost of taking the major courses is still somewhat hefty. Where I live there are two programs, one a two year degree from a community college, and one a four year degree from a college. I would like to retrain, and get into the field but I don’t want to waste time and money on an online program if that ultimately will not provide a career. I recently just posted a question regarding an online school to get your thoughts on it.


      2. Michele I am unfamiliar with the New York Institute of Art and Design. If you want to design or decorate residential spaces then the RIDQC credential is fine. If you intend to work in the commercial realm, restaurants, hotels, retail, then you will need a four year degree.


  14. I have a question. What are your professional thoughts on the following school and their program: New York Institute of Art and Design and their online program in Interior Design. They offer the RIDQC certification through the Designer Society of America.


  15. Hello,
    I am a career shifter, I want to shift to Interior Design, but I am from the food industry. There are Top-up bachelor’s degree in UK, do you think this will be accepted by NCIDQ? What about the regular Bachelor’s degree? I want to practice here in Canada. There schools offering online classes for a bachelors degree in Interior Architecture, they said that the degree you take will be the same as the ones taken in the awarding body university (idesigni.co.uk). What can you say about this? Is this enough to be a restaurant designer?


    1. Hi Regarding NCIDQ’s acceptance of International education please see this page https://www.cidq.org/eligibility-requirements
      I would be wary of degrees offered completely on-line. You need to ask these programs how and who accredits them, if their graduates take the NCIDQ exam and pass rates thereof, and what their graduate placement records are etc. In terms of practice in Canada you could explore this site https://www.idcanada.org/english/for-the-public/become-an-interior-designer.html
      As you learn more I am happy to offer advice.


      1. Yes. What does 90 quarter credit mean? They require minimum of 90 quarter credit, the on-line degree I plan to take says the whole degree is 360 credits. This is in UK so I’m not sure if it is the same as the 90 quarter credit


      2. I am going to say that a 4 year Interior Design degree program at 90 credits per year (4 quarters per year) = 360 credits….I assume the UK program is a 4 year degree so you should be okay. If not you need to speak with somebody in the NCIDQ office about these technicalities. They are happy to help. 202-721-0220 USA or INQUIRIES@CIDQ.ORG


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