Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

NCIDQ’s members are U.S. state boards and Canadian provincial associations that regulate the interior design profession. Membership is not available to individuals.

NCIDQ serves to identify to the public those interior designers who have met the minimum standards for professional practice by passing the NCIDQ Examination. We administer programs that set the bar for professional competency in the interior design profession. Our best-known program is the NCIDQ Examination, a professional competency exam for interior design. Those who meet the NCIDQ eligibility standards and pass the examination become NCIDQ Certificate holders, identifying them as competent interior design professionals. NCIDQ’s other programs include the Interior Design Experience Program for entry-level designers and continuing education for practicing professionals.

Interior design requires specialized expertise and skills that are distinct from those of other building and design professions—encompassing everything from choosing safe indoor materials and furnishings to ensuring compliance with building codes. By setting the bar for professional competence and administering the NCIDQ Examination, NCIDQ identifies for the public those interior designers who are qualified to design and execute interior spaces that protect the public health, safety and welfare. In fact, 27 U.S. states and Canadian provinces require the NCIDQ Certificate in licensing and regulating the interior design profession.

No. NCIDQ is an independent, not-for-profit organization. While several associations serve the needs of interior design professionals, NCIDQ exists to protect the public by setting the bar for professional competency and administering the NCIDQ Examination, which focuses solely on interior design issues that affect the public health, safety and welfare.

More than 25,000 interior design professionals have passed the NCIDQ Examination and earned the NCIDQ Certificate.

Visit Careers in Interior Design for information on the interior design career path. NCIDQ does not recommend or endorse specific design schools, but we encourage you to visit the Council for Interior Design Accreditation for a list of accredited interior design programs.

Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a structure. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. Interior designers may provide interior decorating services, but decorators are not qualified to provide interior design services.

One primary difference between the two professions is that interior designers are responsible for the elements that affect the public’s health, safety and welfare. For example, an interior designer can evaluate wall finishes based on durability, acoustic properties, cleanability, flame retardancy, allergens, toxicity and off-gassing properties. An interior decorator can evaluate finishes based only on color, style and texture.