Category: Interior Design Titles

ADVANCING THE PROFESSION OF INTERIOR DESIGN- STEPS FIVE & SIX

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A refresher first.  We are 2/3rd’s of the way through my multi-step platform, or how I see the profession of code regulated interior design establishing an identity that distinguishes it from the larger occupation of interior design/interior decoration which is unaffected by building codes and standards.  Essentially what I am proposing is that those of us whose identities and careers are limited by the continued misperception and lack of respect for our expertise and ability to practice at the highest levels of the code regulated building design professions must force a change in the current societal understanding of “interior design”.  I am certain that my peers agree that such a paradigm shift is necessary in order to truly advance the profession.  I am uncertain however, that we are willing to do what is necessary to establish an identity that is unique from “interior design”.  This particular post addresses my concern that we cannot simply legislate our way to societal respect and equality with our peer licensed building design professions.

If you just joined in please start at the beginning of this thread.  If you are still with me thanks for hearing me out.  The next steps are a challenge to rationalize in byte-sized chunks. Bear with me.

STEP #5

Licensure is a right to work issue based on proven abilities to protect the health, safety and welfare (HS&W) of the public and NOT a means to validate the profession.

Since the 1970’s those interior designers who learned, and subsequently earned, a level of expertise in the design of code regulated interior spaces have been using regulation as a means to distinguish themselves from those who simply work up one morning and self-proclaimed themselves to be an “interior designer”.  That is with the exception of the previously mentioned GBCIDS.  We have a 40+ year history of trying to legally own the title of interior design and to redefine it as our own. For the past 6 years and 340+ blog posts on this website I have been railing against the common perception that we can actually regulate our way to societal respect and resulting legal protection from the unqualified and innately talented.  This paradigmatic shift in our collective understanding is without  a doubt the largest cognitive hurdle in my platform.

Granted since the 2010 Locke v. Shore ruling in Florida the profession, vis-a-vis ASID & IIDA, have made some strides in trying to shift the professions collective understanding of regulation away from a means to distinguish the qualified from the self-proclaimed to one that is more focused on expanding interior designers rights to practice.  It is an economic liberty issue not a means to draw a line in the occupational sandbox.  We deserve the right to practice to the fullest of our learned/earned potential based on our abilities to protect the HS&W of the public as codified by building codes, standards and related built environment legalities….just like every other licensed building design professional.

Unfortunately this message has not crystallized among the wider profession simply because it would mean that those who do not practice in code impacted design environments would not benefit from such a razor-sharp distinction within the profession of interior design. Some will see this as an infringement or in some way unfair to them.  Not if we let them be “interior designers”.  I believe that it is possible to do this without postpartum consequences.  But it will require us to step back and reconsider much of what we have taken for granted.  We need to better regulate ourselves before we ask Uncle Sam to do the heavy lifting via regulation/licensure.

It is time to leave the interior design nest for good.

This is the crux of my proposition.  We must have the courage to cleave the profession into interior designers and code regulated interior designers (final title terminology TBD).  This is our job…..not Uncle Sam’s.

Now if I have not convinced you that “licensure” is not the answer to our conflicted identity issue let me try this.

STEP #6

Licensure is a political and legal quagmire that we are not prepared yet…to realize substantive success.

Okay if you are still with me please read this recent pronouncement from the Institute of Justice which puts interior design front and center in its campaign to eliminate occupational regulations and licensure http://ij.org/report/license-work-2/report/the-protectionist-origins-of-licensure/

I am not going to delve into the multi-year and well-funded effort to deregulate the profession of interior design here.  You are welcome to read my previous 320 posts to catch-up.  But if you aware of this war on our right to practice at the highest levels of the code regulated building design professions you understand the gravity of this situation.

Interior Design is the poster child for the anti-regulation movement.

I have been trying to elevate this issue to the forefront of our professional advocacy efforts for years.   While there has been some improvement in the advocacy arena we are still clearly on the defensive and the offense (deregulation proponents) continues to have the upper hand.

Unfortunately this is a political issue.  Many of us shy away from such topics.  That is understandable – but it is unhelpful AND potentially disastrous for the profession as well as your ability to practice to the fullest of your capabilities.

Unless you are happy that interior design regulation is in the deregulation cross-hairs you have to be asking yourself “what can I do?”

Well I have several answers, or suggestions, for you to ponder.

  1. Inform yourself.
  2. Don’t be afraid to become political.
  3. Ask your professional organizations what their advocacy efforts are nationally and locally.
  4. Volunteer to help with those advocacy efforts.

I want to clarify here that advocacy for the profession does not necessarily mean political/legal or public sector advocacy ONLY.  We have to be better advocates of our profession and its value to society on the private side of the social spectrum as well.

Essentially once we determine that the best way forward is to adopt a new professional identity we have to broadcast that message so that the general public begins to understand our value to society.  If we present a united front that promotes our abilities and knowledge to practice as peers with other licensed building design professions, whose work affects the HS&W of the public, as opposed to pursuing title regulation that seeks to simply codify the qualified from the not, then and only then can we realize success on the regulatory front.

Yes I understand that there are many states that have laws in place are based on our prior 40 years of effort to own the title interior design.  However, if we parse out all of the interior design regulation in the U.S. we will see that the majority regulates the title and not the act of “interior design”.  This is a vestige of our past 40 years of trying to own the title “interior design”.  I understand there are a few states that have managed to enact legislation that provides for state registered/certified interior designers to actually own their work through the permitting process and I hope that this paradigm shift can allow those jurisdictions to maintain their practice regulation.

In short we will need to address the value of existing regulation and be able to redefine the profession in a way that maintains regulatory success as well as allows existing title based acts to either sunset or be amended.  Easier said than done I know.  But how many interior designers were infringed upon or forced to grandfather in our old model of interior design legislation.  We did it once….well I have faith we can do it again in a much smarter more forward thinking combination of private self-regulation and public legislation that will let interior designers be interior designers without all the attendant political drama and ongoing identity confusion.

But it isn’t going to be easy.  Which leads me to step #7. Stay tuned.

ADVANCING THE PROFESSION OF INTERIOR DESIGN- STEP THREE & FOUR

For the sake of brevity and your patience I am going to combine some steps here;

STEP #3

We must all understand that certification is NOT the same as a license.

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STEP #4

We must recognize that certification is a means, or a tool, to self-regulate the profession (see point one above) not solely a means to a license.

You may have noticed my previous post regarding use of the terms certified and licensed.  In case you missed it here is the gist;

If you attended an educational program that granted you a certificate upon completion that does NOT mean you are “certified” interior designer.

If you passed the NCIDQ Examination- that does NOT mean you are a “licensed” interior designer.

If you received an interior architecture degree from a CIDA accredited school- that does NOT mean you are an “interior architect”

Unfortunately our profession is rife with people who do not understand the above title/label/credential nuances as well as those who know the difference but choose to ignore the legal and ethical ramifications.  While this may work for the individual who may be promoting their personal brand, or academic programs that seek a sexier title, it certainly does nothing to help clarify the public’s understanding and perception of our conflicted profession.

So what can the profession of code regulated interior design do to sort this out and bring clarity to our mission?  Well we can all start by being informed and being honest.  And those who misunderstand or ignore the realities of such claims need to be called out.  We can do this on an individual basis by helping the individual understand the ethical or legal conflicts that they are promoting. We can also report these individuals if their claims cross professional organization rules or state/territory laws.  This is one of the tenets of self-regulating our profession.

If those of us who have earned our titles and credentials, by following the rules and ethical standards set forth by the profession and regulatory agencies, do not stand up to those who make false claims, then we deserve the lack of respect and societal misconception of our value to society which limits our ability to practice as peers with, or independent of, our allied licensed design professions.

I know that is a long run on sentence but hopefully you get my point.

Again, to be clearly confusing, in the U.S. the title “Interior Designer” is protected by the 1st amendment.  Canada can regulate the use of the title.  It is when you start to drill down on titles such as “Certified Interior Designer” or “Licensed Interior Designer” or “Interior Architect” that many of us cross ethical/legal boundaries.

For those of you who are still here and would like a bit more clarity on this please read on.certificate-of-achievement-template

INTERIOR DESIGN CERTIFICATION

First you need to understand that a earning a certificate through some sort of program does not necessarily mean one is “certified”.  To claim you are “certified” generally requires passage of a specialty exam (other than administered by the same program) that vets a person’s knowledge and skill set in a particular occupation, or practice area,  among other requirements.  More on that here http://www.credentialingexcellence.org/programdifferences

Then we need to understand what a designer needs to legitimately claim that they are a “certified” interior designer.  This is where the title/label of “certified” gets really confusing and ultimately abused.

We can boil it down to two levels of certification.  Private and publicly regulated.

Essentially there are two private entities that certify interior designers. These entities are also recognized by state regulations where the practice of, or title thereof, is legally recognized- which at this point is not necessarily in all jurisdictions.  What a mess…..anyway the National Council for Interior Design Qualification examination provides a certificate to all who take and pass their exam.  This certificate is recognized as the standard baseline of professional status in both the U.S. and Canada and does allow one to technically claim that they are “certified”.  And then there is California.  Ah yes the island nation off the coast of Nevada has its own certification examination, the IDEX, which is administered by the California Council for Interior Design Certification.  This certificate allows you to become a Certified Interior Designer in California and California only.

There are several other exam based certificates for Interior Designers that may technically meet the letter of “certification” and allow one to claim they are “certified” but they are strictly private certificates with limited professional gravitas.  However, they are technically certificates.  The RIDQC and the  CQRID being two such certification programs.  There are also several specialization exams that interior designers can take to claim they are certified health care interior designers or aging in place specialists but these are not considered baseline certifications for the general profession of interior design.

Publicly there are many states and territories in North America that have laws in place that allow qualified interior designers (typically NCIDQ certified) to legally claim the title state “certified” interior designer.

I could go on about certificates and certification as well as the acronyms/credentials thereof (don’t get me started on the CID credential) but suffice it to say that if you are skeptical of a particular designers claim that they are in fact “certified” I encourage you to validate their claims by using the following resources;

For those claiming to be certified professional members of ASID 

For those claiming to be certified professional members of IIDA

For those claiming to be NCIDQ certified or state certified Most states and territories, where interior design is regulated (except California) one must be NCIDQ certified to obtain state certification.  You can also check your local state/territory professional boards.

For those claiming to be certified in California

For those Canadians who claim to be “certified”

Now if you come across an individual that claims to be a “certified” interior designer you can, and should, press them to explain how they are so “certified”.  You may not have any legal recourse to prohibit them from such  a claim but there are private resources that can help you sort out such ethical conflicts.

INTERIOR DESIGN LICENSURE

There are many who believe that being certified also means by default that they are licensed.  This is unequivocally false and should not go unquestioned.  Currently only about 50% of U.S. states and most Provinces/Territories, via regulatory boards, are the only entities that can grant licenses for the practice of interior design. If you come across a designer that claims they are licensed to practice in your state, or any other for that matter, you should check with your state professional board.  Unfortunately not all states regulate, or license, interior designers so it is incumbent on the consumer (or peer professional) to sort out such claims in their own jurisdiction.  In Kansas for instance one can claim that they are a licensed interior designer but since there is no such law in place there is no legal recourse. I am sure if you had the funds a lawyer would be glad to pursue a civil level law suit.  However, to claim “licensed” status in an unregulated state should be an alarm to any consumer to cease a business relationship.

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE

In order for an interior designer to claim that they are an interior architect they must be a registered architect in their home state.  You can check this status with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards or your state board.  In Canada the use of the term/title interior architecture may be less regulated but again if one is skeptical of an interior designer claiming to be an interior architect you should check with your provincial/territory boards.

For those academic programs that have adopted the title “interior architecture” but are only CIDA accredited and not NAAB accredited, which would allow their graduates to legally claim the title and practice as an “interior architect”, we should demand that they become more transparent with their program descriptions.

One good model in this regard is the newly created Interior Architecture and Design program at the University of Kansas which clearly explains that graduates of their 4 year undergraduate IA program need to go on to their 2 year masters program in order to earn a degree that will allow them to sit for the Architecture Registration Examination  Which will ultimately allow their graduates to legally claim the title “Interior Architect”.

To wrap this up I want to emphasize this aspect of self-regulation.  We have to police ourselves and hold each other accountable.  We cannot rely on the state (or province) to do this for us.  Yes they can help but policing our profession is not their main purpose.

This leads me to my next mash-up of steps to advance the profession;

STEP #5

Licensure is a right to work issue based on proven abilities to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and NOT a means to validate the profession.

&

STEP #6

Licensure is a political and legal quagmire that we are not prepared yet…to realize substantive success.

Clarifying Interior Design Titles and Labels.

If you attended an educational program that granted you a certificate upon completion- that does NOT mean you are “certified” interior designer.

If you passed the NCIDQ Examination- that does NOT mean you are a “licensed” interior designer.

If you received an interior architecture degree from a CIDA accredited school- that does NOT mean you are an “interior architect”.

If you want to be a “certified interior designer” learn what that means.

If you want to be a “licensed interior designer” learn what that entails.

If you want to be an “interior architect” take the ARE exam.

I do not know how much clearer this can be.   This is not my opinion folks…the above are legally and ethically demonstrable titles and labels that are often applied inappropriately and even illegally.  It is easy to get confused.  If this helps one person figure out who they are, or what they do, then I am good.

You are welcome to ignore the above…but now you do so knowing the difference.

Confused? Feel free to ask.  Disagree? Tell me why.

Thanks for reading on.