NCIDQ stands for The National Council for Interior Design Qualification. Twice per year, this organization administers an exam — the completion of which recognizes that an individual has met the minimum competency standards for practicing interior design.
Currently, approximately half of the United States require the passing of this exam for professional registration. Additionally, NCIDQ certification is required for professional membership into The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), as well as The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) — two of the largest and leading professional organizations for interior designers.
In other words, the NCIDQ exam is kind of like the Bar exam of the interior design world—it’s kind of a big deal. Had I been able to afford staying in California, I could have gotten by without taking this exam, as they currently do not require NCIDQ certification (probably because many of the California Building Codes are not included in this exam). However, I am no longer in the Golden State.
Before taking the exam, one must first meet certain eligibility requirements. There are six possible routes for achieving eligibility—but I am not going to get into all that. If you’d like more information, visit www.ncidq.org.
Having a bachelor’s degree from a CIDA accredited university, (I attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA) I am required to accrue 3,520 hours of qualified interior design experience—half of which must be acquired post-graduation.
During my time at AAU, I interned for seven months at a small design firm in the Castro district — Hepworth+Howard. Sadly, that only accounts for 274.5 hours toward eligibility for the exam. That leaves me with 3,245.5 hours to go.
While it is possible to accumulate these remaining hours as a self-employed designer, these hours will only count for 25% of the same hours spent under the direction of a licensed designer. Translation: in order to become eligible for NCIDQ certification as a self-employed designer, I need to put in 12,982 hours of design work. It looks like I have got my work cut out for me.