Become an Interior Designer

Become an Interior Designer

The traditional path to becoming an interior designer is comprised of specific education, documented work

The traditional path to becoming an interior designer is comprised of specific education, documented work experience, and examination. The NCIDQ Examination is the industry’s recognized indicator of proficiency in interior design principles and an interior designer’s commitment to the profession.


For many, the interior design path begins with formal education. Selecting the appropriate education program can impact future career opportunities. Completing a degree, either an associate, bachelors, or masters (for those pursuing interior design as a second career path), is becoming increasingly more important.

  • Choosing a Program: There are many options available to consider in the decision making process: length of program, size of university, location, and format of program (in person or online). Other factors to consider include program rankings, program flexibility, admission rate, tuition/expenses, alumni network, and accreditation.
  • Accreditation: The Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) reviews interior design programs with quality standards established by the profession. CIDA’s accreditation process is voluntary and only for professional-level degree programs (Bachelor’s or first professional Master’s). A program’s CIDA accreditation demonstrates a commitment to quality and continual improvement. While CIDQ accreditation is not required, as long as a program has been accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body, the level of education will allow the interior designer to sit for the NCIDQ Examination. However, some state’s interior design regulations and laws specify accreditation.
  • Meet with a Faculty Member: Set up an appointment with a faculty member at the schools you are most interested in. This is a good way to decide whether or not a program is right for you. Ask the faculty member about the types of classes that are offered, the teaching philosophy of the program, what percentage of graduates actually pursue interior design careers, and what types of jobs they have landed.


In addition to formal education, the NCIDQ Examination eligibility requires qualified work experience. Depending on the education, the total amount of verified work experience varies.


The NCIDQ Examination is the broad-based exam for all interior designers and serves as the foundation from which to build for those moving into specialty design areas. NCIDQ Certification is required for the practice of many types of interior design in regulated jurisdictions throughout North America. Certification enables designers to easily validate their knowledge, experience and skill to employers and clients alike.

The NCIDQ Examination is administered by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ). CIDQ, which is comprised of regulatory boards from across the United States and Canada, takes seriously its responsibility to protect the public. Accordingly, NCIDQ Certified interior designers meet a minimum of education and work experience and pass the three-part NCIDQ Exam, which is based on CIDQ’s independent, comprehensive analysis of the profession and the daily practice of interior design in a range of settings. NCIDQ Certification meets legal and regulatory standards for the interior design profession as established by more than half of the states across the U.S. and the provinces in Canada.

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