Get ready to start your interior designer career—but see if you need licensure first.
As you begin working as an interior designer, all of the education, job experience and testing leads up to one last hurdle: licensure. Several U.S. states and jurisdictions (including Puerto Rico) and seven Canadian provinces currently have laws on the books that require an interior design license for professional designers.
In some states both licensed and unlicensed interior designers may do actual interior design work but only those who hold a license can call themselves an “interior designer.”
To qualify for licensure, you must pass a state exam called the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam.
In order to even be able to apply to take the exam you most likely must hold the following:
- Typically a bachelor’s degree in interior design
- Two years of work experience
The State of California requires the same combination of education and work experience but their exam is issued by the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC).
Each governing body has a unique set of criteria an interior designer must meet in order to practice. It is important to understand the interior design license requirements early in the process, so that there will be no surprises when you apply for licensure. The following states have interior designer licensing requirements:
States, Territories and Provinces With Interior Designer Licensure Requirements
States Requiring Licensure:
|Connecticut||Louisiana||New Jersey||Washington, D.C.|
|Georgia||Maryland||New York||Territory of Puerto Rico|
The following states have an active interior design coalition:* Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Massachusetts and Michigan.
In addition, these states have interior design licensure bills introduced in 2013-14: These include New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Massachusetts and South Carolina.
Canadian Provinces With Licensure Requirements
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.
*Interior Design Coalition refers to a state group committed to ensuring that interior designers may join the ranks of engineers and architects by getting the profession legally recognized and licensed, state by state and province by province. For more information check the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) website.