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Top 11 Interior Designer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for interior designers and explores the benefits of each.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 20 min read

Certifications for interior designers play an important role in the job market. They demonstrate to potential employers that the designer has a comprehensive understanding of their field, as well as a commitment to staying up-to-date on best practices and trends. Certifications also provide potential employers with tangible evidence of the designer’s skills and capabilities, which can help them stand out from other job applicants. Additionally, certifications can open doors to new opportunities and markets, such as specialized or high-end design firms. Finally, certifications can also provide assurance to clients that they are working with a qualified professional who is committed to providing excellent service.

The purpose of this article is to review the most beneficial certifications for interior designers and show how they can help advance their career.

What are Interior Designer Certifications?

Interior designer certification is a credential that recognizes the knowledge, skills and experience of interior design professionals. It is awarded by professional organizations to individuals who have met certain educational and experiential requirements. Certification is an important tool for interior designers because it demonstrates their commitment to excellence in the field and helps them stand out from other candidates when seeking employment or clients.

Having a certified interior designer on staff can be beneficial for employers as well. Companies often prefer to hire certified professionals due to the assurance that they possess the necessary technical knowledge, experience and credentials. Certification also implies that a designer has a higher level of expertise than those without certification, which can help businesses ensure they are getting quality work from highly qualified professionals.

For individuals pursuing interior design as a career, obtaining certification can be an invaluable asset. Certified interior designers may have access to exclusive job opportunities, higher salaries, greater recognition within the industry, and more influence over decisions related to their projects. Additionally, many employers will provide financial support for their employees’ certification fees and continuing education requirements. Obtaining certification may also open up opportunities for advancement within an organization or allow individuals to start their own businesses.

Overall, becoming certified in interior design is an excellent way for individuals to demonstrate their commitment to excellence in the field while gaining access to valuable resources that can help them advance their careers.

Pro Tip: When considering an interior designer certification, make sure to research the institution offering the certification and the qualifications that they require. A good certification program should provide extensive knowledge of interior design principles, materials, and techniques as well as a comprehensive understanding of relevant building codes and regulations. Additionally, look for programs that offer industry recognition or professional accreditation.

Related: What does an Interior Designer do?

Top 11 Interior Designer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Interior Designers today.

1. American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Certified Interior Designer

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Certified Interior Designer is a professional certification program for interior designers. It recognizes individuals who have met the highest standards of excellence in their field and demonstrates their commitment to ethical practice, professional knowledge, and continuing education.

To become an ASID Certified Interior Designer, applicants must have at least seven years of experience as a professional interior designer, including at least four years of documented experience in the design field. They must also pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. The NCIDQ exam consists of three parts: the Practicum Exam, the Professional Exam, and the Specialty Exam.

In addition to passing the NCIDQ exam, applicants must also complete 30 hours of continuing education credits every two years to maintain their certification status.

The cost to become an ASID Certified Interior Designer varies depending on the state you live in. Generally speaking, it can range from $500-$1,000 for all application fees and exams.

2. National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) Certified Interior Designer

The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) is a professional certification program for interior designers. It is the most widely recognized and accepted credential in the interior design profession. The NCIDQ certification is administered by the Council for Interior Design Qualification, which is a non-profit organization that sets standards of excellence in interior design practice.

The NCIDQ certification requires candidates to pass three exams: the Practicum Exam, the Professional Practice Exam, and the Interior Design Fundamentals Exam. The Practicum Exam assesses a candidate’s ability to apply knowledge and skills in a real-world setting. The Professional Practice Exam tests a candidate’s understanding of business principles and practices related to interior design. The Interior Design Fundamentals Exam evaluates a candidate’s knowledge of materials, codes, construction methods, and other fundamentals related to interior design.

It typically takes two years or more to complete all three exams required for NCIDQ certification. Candidates must also meet additional educational requirements before they can sit for any of the three exams.

To get an NCIDQ certification, candidates must first register with the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ). Once registered, candidates will receive instructions on how to prepare for and take each exam. Candidates are responsible for arranging their own testing accommodations and paying all associated fees.

The cost of obtaining an NCIDQ certification varies depending on where you live and which exams you need to take. Generally speaking, it costs between $1,000-$2,500 USD to become certified through CIDQ. This cost includes registration fees as well as exam fees and any additional materials needed to prepare for the exams.

3. LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP)

LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) is a professional designation given by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to individuals who demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. LEED APs are knowledgeable in green building design, construction, and operations and have the ability to apply their expertise in order to contribute to the design, construction, and operation of green buildings.

It typically takes around six months to become a LEED AP. The process involves taking an exam, completing continuing education credits, and submitting an application for certification. The exam is divided into two parts: one part covers general knowledge about green building principles and practices; the other part focuses on specific knowledge related to one of four specializations: Building Design & Construction (BD+C), Interior Design & Construction (ID+C), Operations & Maintenance (O+M), or Neighborhood Development (ND).

The cost of becoming a LEED AP depends on which type of certification you are seeking. The cost for each type ranges from $200-$500 USD depending on whether you are already a USGBC member or not. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the exam or registering for continuing education credits.

4. Certified Kitchen & Bath Designer (CKBD)

A Certified Kitchen & Bath Designer (CKBD) is a professional with specialized knowledge and experience in the design of kitchens and bathrooms. The certification is offered by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). To become certified, individuals must have at least two years of experience in kitchen and bath design, pass an exam, and adhere to a code of ethics.

It typically takes about six months to complete the requirements for CKBD certification. First, applicants must join the NKBA and pay a membership fee. Then they must complete an online application that includes providing proof of their work experience in kitchen and bath design. Once approved, applicants can take the CKBD exam, which consists of multiple-choice questions covering all aspects of kitchen and bath design. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their CKBD certificate within four to six weeks.

The cost for becoming a Certified Kitchen & Bath Designer varies depending on whether you are already an NKBA member or not. For non-members, there is an initial fee of $299 plus a $50 application processing fee. The exam fee is $175 for members and $225 for non-members. If you need to retake the exam, there is an additional fee of $125 for members or $150 for non-members.

5. American Institute of Building Design (AIBD) Certified Professional Builder/Designer

The American Institute of Building Design (AIBD) Certified Professional Builder/Designer is a professional certification program designed to recognize the knowledge, skill, and experience of individuals in the field of building design. The AIBD Certified Professional Builder/Designer (CPBD) designation is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated a mastery of building design principles and practices, as well as an understanding of the latest industry trends and technologies.

To become an AIBD CPBD, candidates must complete an application process that includes providing evidence of their education, experience, and professional achievements. Candidates must also pass a comprehensive written examination that covers topics such as building codes, structural engineering, architectural design principles, construction techniques, project management, and more.

The entire process typically takes between four to six months to complete.

The cost for the AIBD CPBD exam varies depending on the state or region in which you are taking it. Generally speaking, it costs between $200 and $400 USD.

6. Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) Green Professional Certification

The Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) Green Professional Certification is a professional certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability in the home furnishings industry. The certification is designed to help professionals develop and maintain sustainable practices, while also providing consumers with assurance that they are working with knowledgeable professionals.

The SFC Green Professional Certification program consists of three levels of certification: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. To become certified at each level, applicants must complete a series of online courses and exams related to sustainability topics such as energy efficiency, water conservation, materials selection, and waste management. Each course includes an assessment that must be passed in order to progress to the next level.

In addition to completing the courses and assessments, applicants must also meet certain criteria for their business operations in order to qualify for certification. For example, businesses must demonstrate that they are using sustainable practices in their operations such as reducing energy consumption or using recycled materials in their products.

The time it takes to get certified will vary depending on how quickly you can complete the courses and assessments. Generally speaking, it should take about 6-8 weeks from start to finish if you are able to dedicate enough time each week.

To get started with the SFC Green Professional Certification program, applicants must first register on the SFC website. Registration costs $50 USD per person plus any applicable taxes or fees. Once registered, applicants can begin taking the online courses and assessments required for certification at each level. The cost of each course varies depending on which level of certification you are pursuing; however, most courses range from $25-$100 USD per course plus any applicable taxes or fees.

Overall, obtaining SFC Green Professional Certification can be a great way for professionals in the home furnishings industry to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability while also providing consumers with assurance that they are working with knowledgeable professionals who understand green practices.

7. International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Professional Member

The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) is a professional membership organization that serves the commercial interior design industry. The IIDA Professional Member designation recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of professional accomplishment in their field and are dedicated to advancing the profession.

To become an IIDA Professional Member, applicants must meet certain requirements including having at least five years of experience in the interior design industry, being registered or licensed as an interior designer in their jurisdiction, and having completed at least two professional development courses related to the practice of interior design.

The application process for IIDA Professional Member status takes approximately four weeks. Applicants must submit a completed application form along with supporting documents such as proof of registration/licensure, transcripts from any relevant coursework, and letters of recommendation from colleagues or employers.

The cost for IIDA Professional Member status is $200 USD per year. This fee covers access to exclusive resources such as publications and webinars, discounts on continuing education courses, and invitations to special events.

8. Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst Professional Certification

The Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst Professional Certification is a nationally recognized certification that demonstrates competency in the field of home performance. It is designed to validate the knowledge and skills of professionals who conduct energy audits and assess, diagnose, and improve the performance of residential buildings.

To become certified as a BPI Building Analyst Professional, individuals must pass a written exam that covers topics such as building science principles, combustion safety testing, air leakage testing, blower door testing, duct leakage testing, and infrared thermography. The exam typically takes four hours to complete.

In order to be eligible for the exam, individuals must first take an approved training course from a BPI-accredited training provider. The cost of the training varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $500-$1,000.

Once an individual has completed their training course and passed the written exam with a score of at least 80%, they will receive their BPI Building Analyst Professional Certification. This certification is valid for three years before it needs to be renewed.

The cost for taking the written exam is $400 plus any applicable taxes or fees associated with registering for it. In addition to this fee, there may also be additional costs associated with obtaining your certification such as background checks or other administrative fees.

9. National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Certified Graduate Builder

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Certified Graduate Builder (CGB) program is a professional certification for individuals who have the knowledge and skills necessary to build quality homes. The CGB designation is recognized throughout the home building industry as a mark of excellence.

It typically takes about three months to complete the CGB program, depending on how quickly you can study and take the exam. To get certified, you must first meet the eligibility requirements, which include being an NAHB member in good standing and having at least two years of experience in home building or related construction activities.

Once you are eligible, you must complete an online application and pay a $100 application fee. You will then receive an email with instructions on how to access the CGB Candidate Handbook, which contains all of the information needed to prepare for the exam. After studying and preparing for the exam, you can schedule a time to take it either online or in person at an approved testing center.

The cost of taking the CGB exam depends on whether you choose to take it online or in person. If you take it online, there is a $200 fee; if you take it in person, there is a $250 fee. Once you pass the exam, there is an additional $50 fee for processing your certification application and issuing your CGB certificate.

10. American Lighting Association (ALA) Lighting Certified

The American Lighting Association (ALA) Lighting Certified program is a comprehensive certification program designed to provide lighting professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to successfully design, specify, and install residential and commercial lighting systems. The program provides both hands-on training as well as online coursework that covers topics such as lighting fundamentals, product selection, installation techniques, safety protocols, and code compliance.

To become ALA Lighting Certified, individuals must complete a three-day in-person training session at an ALA-approved location. During this training session, participants will learn about lighting products and technologies, how to select the right products for specific applications, how to safely install them, and how to comply with applicable codes and regulations. After the in-person training is completed, participants must then pass an online exam in order to receive their certification.

The cost of becoming ALA Lighting Certified varies depending on the location of the training session. Generally speaking, it can range from $500-$1,000 for the entire program including both the in-person training session and online exam.

Overall, becoming ALA Lighting Certified is a great way for lighting professionals to gain valuable knowledge and expertise in the field of lighting design and installation. It also demonstrates a commitment to providing quality service that meets industry standards.

11. National Fire Protection Agency’s Life Safety Code Specialist Certification

The National Fire Protection Agency’s (NFPA) Life Safety Code Specialist Certification is a professional certification that recognizes an individual's expertise in the application of NFPA codes and standards related to life safety. This certification is designed for individuals who are responsible for the application of NFPA codes and standards related to life safety, including but not limited to fire protection engineers, architects, building officials, fire marshals, and other professionals working in the field of life safety.

The certification process consists of two parts: an online examination and a practical assessment. The online exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as fire protection systems, building construction, occupancy classifications, and NFPA codes. The practical assessment requires candidates to demonstrate their knowledge by completing a series of tasks related to the application of NFPA codes and standards.

The certification process typically takes between 4-6 weeks to complete depending on the availability of both the online examination and practical assessment. Candidates can register for the online exam through the NFPA website or at any local Pearson VUE testing center. The cost of registration varies depending on where you take the exam; however, it generally ranges from $150-$200 USD. The cost for the practical assessment is determined by each individual training provider; however, it typically ranges from $500-$1000 USD.

Do You Really Need a Interior Designer Certificate?

The answer to this question really depends on your individual goals and aspirations. If you are looking to become a professional interior designer, then an interior design certificate may be beneficial in helping you reach that goal. A certificate program can provide you with the foundation of knowledge and skills necessary to pursue a career in interior design. These courses may cover topics such as color theory, space planning, materials and finishes, furniture layout, textiles, lighting design, and other related topics. Additionally, many programs will provide students with hands-on experience through internships or practicum courses.

On the other hand, if you are simply looking for a way to express your creativity through decorating your own home or working on small side projects, then a formal certificate program may not be necessary. You can still learn the basics of interior design by researching online tutorials or taking informal classes at local stores and community centers. While these methods of learning may not provide you with the same level of expertise as a formal education program would, they can still give you the skills and confidence necessary to create beautiful spaces in your own home.

At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide whether or not an Interior Designer Certificate is right for you. Consider what type of career path you wish to pursue and research different programs that offer certificates in order to find one that best suits your needs.

Related: Interior Designer Resume Examples

FAQs About Interior Designer Certifications

1. How do I get an interior designer certification?

Answer: You can obtain an interior designer certification through accredited programs offered in various educational institutions. Additionally, you can also become certified as a professional interior designer by taking the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam.

2. What qualifications do I need to become an interior designer?

Answer: To become a professional interior designer, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in interior design from an accredited institution, along with passing the NCIDQ exam. Depending on the state or country you live in, you may also need to meet additional requirements such as obtaining a license or registering with the local government.

3. Are there any online courses available for interior design certification?

Answer: Yes, there are many online courses available to help prepare for the NCIDQ exam and other certifications related to interior design. However, these courses will not grant you certification on their own; they are simply intended to help you prepare for the exams and gain knowledge of the subject matter.

4. What is included in an interior design certification program?

Answer: Interior design certification programs typically include coursework related to topics such as color theory, space planning, drafting techniques and furniture selection. Additionally, some programs may offer specialized classes such as lighting design or sustainability principles for interiors.

5. How long does it take to complete an interior design certification?

Answer: The length of time it takes to complete an interior design certification depends on the program and individual student's commitment level. Generally speaking, most programs can be completed within one year if taken full-time or two years if taken part-time.