A Change of Requirements
What educators, students and practitioners need to know about the NCIDQ exam.
By Janice R. Young
In 2004 the NCIDQ Board of Directors approved immediate changes to the education and experience requirements for NCIDQ Examination candidacy. While it is important to understand what the new requirements are (see sidebar), it is equally important to understand why these changes have been made and how they might impact you as an educator, student or practitioner.
WHY THE CHANGE IN EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE?
For the first time in our history a majority of students are "non-traditional," meaning that they not only take courses, but also train and work simultaneously, according to the American Association of Colleges and Universities 2002 report. The prevailing important factors in obtaining a degree are credit hours and coursework content. This change clarifies the number of credit hours required to be eligible to take the examination, stated in terms more commonly used in the educational community.
The intent of these new eligibility requirements is to allow beginning designers to get the appropriate experience to become NCIDQ Certificate holders and licensed (registered) interior designers in their jurisdiction. The required years of experience currently are viewed as "work experience" and not "internship," although an ultimate goal of the NCIDQ Board of Directors is for candidates to obtain a structured internship experience, as outlined in NCIDQ's Interior Design Experience Program (IDEP). Therefore, those who begin their work experience as of January 1, 2008, must complete that experience under the supervision of a qualified professional (as described above) rather than in independent practice.
WHY IS THE CHANGE IN SUPERVISOR REQUIREMENTS EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1. 2008?
NCIDQ has always recommended that practice be gained under the supervision of an NCIDQ Certificate holder, a licensed interior designer or an architect offering interior design services. Although there have been practitioners who have gained their experience through independent practice, NCIDQ believes that candidates must experience the diverse tasks of interior design and apply that knowledge under the direct supervision of a qualified design professional to fully understand their responsibilities to the public and the demands of professional practice. Supervised practice is an essential component to protect the public's health, life safety and welfare. During this experience practice, the supervisor will guide the beginning designer on important decisions and issues relating to projects, and also bear the liability and professional insurance requirements for practice.
If a candidate chooses to work for an architect, NCIDQ encourages candidates to seek a practitioner who is an NCIDQ Certificate holder and who offers interior design services. Again, for anyone who begins his or her work experience after January 1, 2008, only work completed under the supervision of an NCIDQ Certificate holder, licensed interior designer or architect offering interior design services will be allowed to satisfy the eligibility requirements. This condition does not affect those who are gaining their work
experience now or who will begin their years of work experience before this time.
WON'T IT BE HARD FOR ME TO FIND A QUALIFIED DESIGN PROFESSIONAL FOR WHOM TO WORK?
In 2004, there were 109,300 licensed architects in the United States and Canada. About 50 percent of the licensees offer interior design services. There are 21,391 licensed interior designers in the United States and Canada. NCIDQ has awarded 18,570 Certificates to interior designers during the past 30 years. Making allowances for retired professionals, deaths and dual registration (e.g. a person who is both an NCIDQ Certificate holder and a licensed interior designer or architect or licensed in more than one jurisdiction) there are potentially 66,360 qualified professionals who could provide direct supervision for people completing their formal education. NCIDQ defines "direct supervision" as the direction given by a supervisor who has control over and detailed professional knowledge of the work prepared by the supervised person.
Statistics aside, other professions that require supervised work experience, such as
architecture, face difficulty finding professionals to serve as supervisors. This is a typical problem in rural or other areas where population is low. To address these concerns, NCIDQ is considering ways for work experience to qualify for its eligibility requirements when the supervising does not occur in person. Because there are almost three years before the "no independent practice" requirement takes effect, NCIDQ believes this will allow time for more applicants to become Certificate holders, thereby expanding the pool of possible supervisors for candidates after January 1, 2008. This time period also will allow current students to become aware of the requirements and tailor their initial work experiences after graduation to meet these requirements.
I AM AN EDUCATOR: HOW DO THESE REQUIREMENTS AFFECT ME?
The most important thing you can do as an educator is share these experience requirements with your students. Tell the students now, tell them often and make sure they understand how many hours will be required. If a student is from a small town, he or she may need to gain experience the way other professionals, like doctors and architects, do. This means you, as an educator, might say to a student, "Get your required experience first in the Big City, then go home to Two Egg, Florida, and open your own office."
The other point worth sharing with students is that, typically, interior designers have three jobs in their first five years of work after graduation. This has been true for at least 20 years. Graduates already are moving from job to job, so it is imperative that they focus on getting their required experience working for a qualified design professional.
I AM A STUDENT: HOW DO THESE REQUIEMENTS AFFECT ME?
First, you need to know exactly how many credits are required in your academicprogram. If you are in a program of 120 or more semester academic credits, then your total work-experience requirement is 3,520 hours. If you want to complete some of that work experience prior to graduation, you can complete a maximum of 1,760 work hours while in school—but only after you have completed 96 semester credits of academic work.
I AM A PRACTITIONER: HOW DO THESE REQUIREMENTS AFFECT ME?
If you are a practitioner who is already an NCIDQ Certificate holder or a licensed (registered) interior designer, please be aware of these requirements and be open to acting as a supervisor or mentor for IDEP participants or recent graduates entering the workforce. Your participation as a qualified design professional supervising and mentoring examination candidates is essential to NCIDQ's mission of protecting the public.
If you are not an NCIDQ Certificate holder and want to be, you should understand that the requirements for exam eligibility are those in effect at the time of your application.
I STILL HAVE QUESTIONS AND NEED TO KNOW MORE!
As always, contact NCIDQ's Web site at www.ncidq.org for more information. NCIDQ continues to meet its mission of protecting the health, life safety and welfare of the public. That is why these changes have been made, with the public's interest and safety at heart.
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR ELIGIBILITY TO TAKE NCIDQ EXAMINATION:
All experience prior to graduation is limited as indicated below and may serve to satisfy an education requirement for training, but may not apply to credit hours for education.
Graduates with a baccalaureate degree (minimum) in programs of no less than 120 semester or 180 quarter credit hours of which 60 semester or 90 quarter hours, respectively, are interior design-related, must have completed 96 semester or 144 quarter credit hours of education prior to experience for that experience to be applicable to the NCIDQ requirements for Interior Design Experience Program (IDEP) participation or exam candidacy. Applicable experience shall not exceed 1,760 hours prior to graduation. A total of 3,520 hours of experience is required for IDEP completion or exam candidacy.
Persons completing programs leading to a certificate, degree or diploma with no less
than 60 semester or 90 quarter credit hours in interior design-related coursework must
complete the education program prior to commencement of the IDEP participation program for experience to be applicable to the NCIDQ requirements for exam candidacy. A total of 5,280 hours of experience is required for IDEP
completion or exam candidacy.
Persons completing programs leading to a certificate, degree or diploma with no less than 40 semester or 60 quarter credit hours of interior design-related coursework must complete the education program prior to commencing any experience for that experience to be applicable to exam candidacy. Applicants must have completed an education program of at least 40 semester or 60 quarter credit hours and a total of 7,040 hours of experience to be eligible for exam candidacy.
The above criteria for eligibility must be satisfied at the time of application submission. Education is evaluated based on a review of college or university transcripts and, when necessary to validate the course work, copies of course descriptions from the college or university catalog may need to be submitted.
In reviewing applications, full-time employment is defined as not fewer than 35 hours per week. It is recommended that employment be under the supervision of a full-time interior design practitioner who is either an NCIDQ Certificate holder, an interior designer recognized by a jurisdictional regulatory agency, or a licensed architect who offers interior design services. Examination candidates who begin their years of work experience after January 1, 2008, will be required to complete that experience under the direct supervision of an NCIDQ Certificate holder, a licensed (registered) interior designer or a registered architect who offers interior design services. No independent practice time will be accepted.
If you intend to become licensed in a regulated jurisdiction, you must contact the appropriate regulatory agency before completing the NCIDQ application to verify that jurisdiction's requirements for licensure. This is an important step because each jurisdiction establishes the requirements for licensure (registration), and their requirements may differ from NCIDQ's requirements.
Janice Roberts Young is the president of NCIDQ. A licensed interior designer in Florida and Georgia, she is an NCIDQ Certificate holder. She is the principal of Janice Young
& Associates in Jacksonville, FL, which specializes in commercial and transportation facilities.