Candidate Information

CALIFORNIA CERTIFIED INTERIOR DESIGN TITLE ACT LAW

  • California Business & Professions Codes Sections 5800 – 5812
  • Under the Certified Interior Designers Title Act law, Certified Interior Designers are qualified by the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC) upon evidence of a combination of interior design education and/or experience and passage of the IDEX California examination.
  • Only CCIDC can determine eligibility to be a Certified Interior Designer in the State of California. Designers who meet the education, experience and examination criteria of the CCIDC Board are allowed to use the “Certified Interior Designer” title and “CID” appellation and are recognized in the State of California.
  • Upon qualification, the Certified Interior Designer will be identified by an individual number which will appear on a certificate, a stamp with which to identify interior design nonstructural and non-seismic drawings and documents, and an identification card.
  • Certified Interior Designers, as mandated by the State of California, have met high standards of qualification and have agreed to uphold a strict code of ethics and conduct. 

Certified Interior Designer (CID) Requirements

    How to Become a Certified Interior Designer & IDEX California Information

1) WHY SHOULD I BECOME A “CERTIFIED INTERIOR DESIGNER”?

  • With your interior design license California legally recognizes you as an interior designer. This is the only legally recognized title for interior designers in California.
  • With your interior design license California recognizes you as legally certified.
  • Only Certified Interior Designers have proven their education, experience, and passed an examination relevant to California.
  • Every Certified Interior Designer is required to sign and abide by the CCIDC Code of Ethics and Conduct when they apply, giving their promise of professionalism to their clients.
  • Certification demonstrates a commitment to professional practice through education, experience and examination.
  • Greater knowledge decreases risk of legal liability.
  • Increased client confidence in your abilities.

2) WHAT IS CERTIFICATION FOR INTERIOR DESIGNERS?

Certified Interior Designer” or “CID“is the only legally recognized and protected title for interior designers in the state of California.

In 1990 the California legislature passed a law creating Section 5800 of the Business & Professions Code, which in turn codified the title “Certified Interior Designer”.

CCIDC is the organization responsible and recognized for certifying interior designers in the state of California.

3) WHAT IS A CERTIFIED INTERIOR DESIGNER?
(B&P Code Section 5800)

A Certified Interior Designer is a competent design professional who may prepare and submit non-structural; non-seismic construction documents and specifications to local building departments for the purposes of plan check.

Certified Interior Designers have demonstrated through education, experience and examination their knowledge of the California Building Code as it relates to space planning, life safety, flammability and disabled access code issues, under the provisions of Chapter 3.9 of the Business & Professions Code, commencing with Section 5800.

4) WHAT ARE THE INTERIOR DESIGNER REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A CERTIFIED INTERIOR DESIGNER?
(B&P Code Section 5801)

A Certified Interior Designer must have completed at least one of the following:

  1. A four or five year accredited interior design program and have a minimum of two years experience, or;
  2. A three year accredited interior design program and have a minimum of three years experience, or; 
  3. A two year accredited interior design program and have a minimum of four years of experience, or;
  4. Have least eight years of interior design education, or at least eight years of diversified interior design experience, or a combination of interior design education and diversified interior design experience that together total at least eight years.

All CID Interior Designers must pass the IDEX California examination specifically developed for certification based upon the California Building Code (CBC) or Title 24, California laws and regulations as well as fulfilling one of the four categories above.

5) WHAT IS AN ACCREDITED INTERIOR DESIGN PROGRAM?

The California certification board, CCIDC, accepts all accrediting agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education.

6) WHAT IS THE “IDEX CALIFORNIA” EXAMINATION?

The IDEX California is an examination specially developed for certification purposes in California and tests candidates specifically on the California Building Code (CBC), Title 24 as well as ethics, business practices, and design standards, among other things.

7) WHY IS THE IDEX CALIFORNIA REQUIRED, AND NOT ONE OF THE NATIONAL EXAMINATIONS?

None of the national examinations test for the California Building Code (CBC) or Title 24, they test for codes that do not apply in California.
If the purpose of regulating a profession is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, then it stands to reason that the examination used in determining a candidates proficiency for such regulation be based upon the codes and regulations applicable to that state.

8) WHAT ARE THE MINIMUM INTERIOR DESIGNER REQUIREMENTS TO REGISTER FOR THE IDEX CALIFORNIA INTERIOR DESIGN EXAMINATION?

The minimum education requirement is a two (2) year certificate or 40 semester units (60 quarter units) in the core subject of interior design, or for “experience only” candidates a minimum of five (5) years diversified interior design working experience based upon 36 hours per week, or a total of 9,000 hours.

9) HOW DO I APPLY FOR THE IDEX CALIFORNIA EXAMINATION?

First, you must apply to become a Certified Interior Designer so your education and/or work experience can be verified. The various applications are located below under “Apply Here for the IDEX California Exam and Certification”. You will register for the IDEX California on the same application to become a Certified Interior Designer.

10) HOW IS THE IDEX CALIFORNIA EXAMINATION ADMINISTERED?

The IDEX California is an online examination given at multiple locations across California at proctored testing sites. It can also be taken at testing sites in other states. The examination is given twice a year, once in the spring (May) and once in the fall (October). The testing window for each sitting will last for the entire month. When a candidate registers for the examination, they are allowed to select their testing location and their testing date and time within the testing window.

11) HOW LONG IS THE EXAM AND ARE THERE ANY DRAWING REQUIREMENTS?

The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and candidates have three (3) hours to answer them. There are no drawing requirements because in order to register for the examination there is a minimum requirement of education or working experience so the candidate should already know how to draw. The purpose of the IDEX is to test the candidate’s knowledge on codes and regulations as well as consumer safety and other issues as it relates to certification. Passage of the IDEX California is in addition to the education and experience requirements defined in item 3 of this brochure and Section 5801 of the B&P Code.

12) WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE IDEX CALIFORNIA INTERIOR DESIGN EXAMINATION?

There is a wealth of information on the IDEX California examination posted on the CCIDC web site at https://ccidc.org including a free download of the official CCIDC study guide and applications. 

There is also information posted on the CCIDC web site for third party study materials and preparation classes. Get the updates: sign up to receive timely bulletins and updates by subscribing to the “IDEX interest form”.

13) WHO MAY REFER TO HIMSELF OR HERSELF AS A “CERTIFIED INTERIOR DESIGNER (CID)”?  (B&P Code Sections 5812 & 5804)

Only persons who have met the education, experience, and examination requirements, and have been certified by the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC) may refer to themselves as a “Certified Interior Designer”.

The title “Certified Interior Designer” is protected by law (B&P Code Section 17200) and it is considered an “unfair business practice” for any person to represent himself or herself as such unless they have complied with Section 5800.

14) HOW WILL THE CERTIFIED INTERIOR DESIGNER BE IDENTIFIED? (B&P Code Section 5802)

Each Certified Interior Designer should affix a stamp and wet signature to all drawings, specifications, or documents prepared for submission. All documents shall be presented as interior design documents, not as architectural or engineering documents.

15) WHAT DOES THE CERTIFIED INTERIOR DESIGNER STAMP LOOK LIKE?

QUALIFICATION INFORMATION AND CRITERIA

To become a Certified Interior Designer (CID), candidates must have a minimum of six years combined accredited interior design education and experience (or) a minimum of 8 years combined interior design education and experience.

All candidates must pass the IDEX California® exam. Designers are examined for competence in Commercial as well as Residential: California Codes and Regulations, design synthesis, schematics, programming, space planning, design development, working drawings, construction documents, furniture and finish specifications, lighting layout and specifications, contract documents, contract administration, business law and ethics.

Qualified Professionals From one of the Following Design Professional are Able to Apply:

  • Interior Design
  • Architecture
  • Building Design

There are Four Paths to Qualification, Candidates must meet one of the following criteria:

Path 1

Candidates can take the IDEX California®  Exam but, are not yet eligible to be Certified.

  1. Minimum of 40 Semester Core Units from accredited design program

(60 Quarter Units)
OR

  1. More than 5 but less than 8 years of diversified design experience.

Path 2

Candidates Qualify to Become Certified Upon Passing the IDEX California®.

Candidates must meet one of the following minimum qualifications:

  1. 80+ Semester Core Units from accredited design program (120+ Quarter Units) plus two years of diversified design experience.
  2. 60 – 79 Semester Core Units from accredited design program (90+ Quarter Units) plus three years of diversified design experience.
  3. 40 – 59 Semester Core Units from accredited design program (60+ Quarter Units) plus four years of diversified design experience.
  4. Minimum eight years of diversified design experience, interior design education, or combination of both that total eight years.

Path 3 

For Candidates who have previously passed a national design exam, streamlined path to take the IDEX California® and become certified upon successfully passing.

Candidates must provide proof of passing one of the following examinations.
ARE          CQRID          LEED-AP          NCBDC          NCIDQ          NKBA (CKBD)     RIDQC

Path 4

For Candidates who would like to become certified with a commercial designation, who have previously passed a national design exam, streamlined path to take the IDEX California® and become certified upon successfully passing.

Candidates must meet all of the following minimum qualifications

Candidates must provide proof of passing one of the following examinations.
ARE          CQRID          LEED-AP          NCBDC          NCIDQ          NKBA (CKBD)     RIDQC

Provide proof of passing the following California Based, International Codes Council (ICC) Courses, to qualify:

Course NameCourse Link
2015 IBC Essentials with 2016 CA Amendments https://learn.iccsafe.org?course_id=34573
2016 CBC Title 24 Regulation (Energy)https://learn.iccsafe.org?course_id=34782
2016 CBC Chapter 11B Accessibility in Public Buildingshttps://learn.iccsafe.org?course_id=34604
2016 CBC Means of Egresshttps://learn.iccsafe.org?course_id=34625
Building Codes 101 for Interior Designershttps://learn.iccsafe.org?course_id=34622

ALL 4 Paths MUST pass the IDEX California® to qualify for Certification in California

Q:     Who Can Apply for Certification?

A:      Qualified Professionals From one of the Following:

  • Interior Design
  • Architecture
  • Building Design

Q:     What is an Accredited School or Educational Institution?

A:      Requirements must come from an accredited institution approved by US Department of Education.

CIDA or FIDER accreditation NOT required.

Q:     What is the Definition of Core Units?

A:      Total Units, (Excluding General Education Courses), From Coursework in the Following Categories:

Interior Design          Building Design          Interior Decoration

Drafting                      History Design            Architectural History

Architecture               Graphic Design           Construction Documents

Art History                 Building Codes            Green Building Practices

Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD)

Business Practices as Related to the Practice of Design

Q:     How are Core Units Calculated?

A:      Core units are calculated by semester units; Quarter units will be converted into Semester Units.

Q:     I don’t have a degree, will I qualify?

A:      Total Core units determine eligibility, completion of a degree not required.

Q:     How Much Education do I need?

A:      Meet Minimum Qualifications to Take the IDEX California®

  • Minimum of 40 Semester Core Units from accredited design program (60 Quarter Units).
  • Education requirements to complete certification vary.
  • An option for experience-only candidates to apply is available, explanation in further detail to follow.

Q:     What is the Definition of Diversified Design Experience?

A:      Design Experience Including:

  • Prepare complex nonstructural or nonseismic plans
  • Instruction for the preparation of complex nonstructural or nonseismic plans
  • Complex nonstructural or nonseismic plans:
    • Require the skills of a licensed contractor to implement
    • Includes programming, planning, designing, and documenting construction
    • Installation of nonstructural or nonseismic elements, finishes and furnishings
  • Protect and enhance the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Q:     How is Diversified Design Experience Calculated?

A:      Based on Full time work 36 hours or more per week, 52 weeks per year.

  • Full-Time Diversified Design Experience Requirements:
    • 1 Year = 1,872 Hours+
    • 2 Years = 3,744 Hours+
    • 3 Years = 5,616 Hours+
    • 4 Years = 7,488 Hours+
    • 5 Years = 9,360 Hours+
    • 8 Years = 14,976 Hours+

Q:     How is Proof of Diversified Design Experience Submitted?

A:      Submit Proof of Diversified Design Experience in Two Ways:

  • Proof for Self-Employment:
    • Federal Tax Returns 1040/1040A/1040EZ (Page 2 Only)
    • Return for each year of experience
    • Letter from a CPA or Attorney confirming candidate’s profession,verifies knowledge required duration of occupation.
    • Résumés NOT accepted for self-employment
  • Proof for Outside Employment:
    • Verifiable, Professional Résumé
    • Include Start and end Dates
    • Include Hours Worked
    • Detailed Job Responsibilities
    • Complete employer Contact Information
    • Include all Experience/Positions for Consideration

Q:     Can International Candidates Apply?

A:      All Candidates who Meet the Qualifications are Encouraged to Become Certified:

  • International education allowed, provided:
    • International Education from Accredited Source
    • Accreditation by USDE International Equivalent accrediting agency
    • Provide translated/verified transcripts
    • International experience considered
    • Provide verifiable proof of diversified design experience

Q:     How do I Know if I Meet the Qualifications?

A:      You Must Qualify Under One of the Following Three Paths to Qualification:

Path 1 Candidates

Meet the minimum Qualifications to sit for the IDEX California® Exam, do not qualify to complete certification after passing the IDEX. CCIDC will keep application and test results on file until Candidate provides proof of completion of remaining qualifications to certify.

Candidates must meet one of the following minimum qualifications:

  1. Minimum of 40 Semester Core Units from accredited design program (60 Quarter Units)  – OR –
  2. More than 5 but less than 8 years of diversified design experience.

Path 2 Candidates

Qualify to Become Certified Upon Passing the IDEX California®.

Candidates must meet one of the following minimum qualifications:

  1. 80+ Semester Core Units from accredited design program (120+ Quarter Units) Plus two years of diversified design experience.
  2. 60 – 79 Semester Core Units from accredited design program (90+ Quarter Units) Plus three years of diversified design experience.
  3. 40 – 59 Semester Core Units from accredited design program (60+ Quarter Units) Plus four years of diversified design experience.
  4. Minimum eight years eight years of diversified design experience, interior design or combination of both that total eight years.

Path 3 Candidates

Streamlined path to take the IDEX California® for Candidates who have previously passed a national design exam and become certified. 

Candidates provide proof of passing one of the following examinations, to qualify:

ARE                CQRID          NCBDC        NCARB          NCIDQ          NKBA (CKBD)      RIDQC

Path 4 Candidates

Streamlined path to take the IDEX California® for Candidates who would like to become certified with a commercial designation.

Candidates must meet all of the following minimum qualifications

Candidates must provide proof of passing one of the following examinations.

ARE          CQRID          LEED-AP          NCBDC          NCIDQ          NKBA (CKBD)     RIDQC

Candidates must provide proof of passing the following California Based International Codes Council (ICC) Courses

  • Building 101: Building Department Overview
  • California Building Code Essentials
  • CBC/CFC Means of Egress
  • California Building Code Title 24 Regulations
  • CBC Chapter 11B: Accessibility in Public Buildings, Public Accommodations, Commercial Buildings

ALL 4 Paths MUST pass the IDEX California® to qualify for Certification in California

Q:     How do I Apply?

A:      Qualified Candidates apply online; detailed instructions provided:

  • Complete and submit the online application
  • Attach requested documents
  • Mail in corresponding documentation as instructed
  • Pay Fees: Application/IDEX/Test Center
  • All fees are due at the time of application.
  • Corresponding documentation MUST be received prior to the deadline date.
  • Incomplete applications deferred to future testing period, NO Exceptions.
  • Candidates have 1 year from registration approval to sit for exam.

Q:     When is the IDEX California® Testing?

A:      There are two testing periods per year:

Spring:     May 1 – 31st

Fall:          October 1 – 31st

Q:     What Happens After I Submit my Application Packet?

A:      The verification process takes time; CCIDC will contact you via email:

  • Log in to see status updates on your application.
  • Information provided verified by CCIDC Staff (duration varies).
  • Notification of application approval provided, upon completion.
  • Candidates have 1 year from registration approval to sit for exam.
  • NOTICE TO SCHEDULE (NTS) email from Castle Worldwide Testing Center.
  • Candidates receive the NTS email at the end of March (Spring )/August (Fall).
  • NTS provides candidates testing center account login.
  • Candidates log in to select the date, time and location for exam.
  • Many testing centers throughout California, the US, even Worldwide.
  • Study materials and courses found on CCIDC website.

Q:     Are there study materials for the IDEX California®?

A:      CCIDC Provides a Free Study Guide

  • Twenty-nine page booklet Includes:
    • Exam background information, schedule, rules, exam format, content, sample questions and an FAQ.
    • For study materials and classes, please refer to a list of third-party vendors on the CCIDC website.

Q:     When will I know my test results?

A:      For accuracy and fairness, a Matriculation expert reviews/qualifies each exam.

  • Exams scheduled all 31 days, tests not verifiable until last exam submitted.
  • Test results provided 3 5 weeks after last day of test month.
  • Email sent with Pass/Fail status when results made available.
  • Letter with specific scores sent USPS.
  • IDEX Certificate mailed to passing candidates.
  • Retakes scheduled as soon as next testing period.
  • Notice to retake and retest fee due: March 1st Spring IDEX or August 1st Fall IDEX.

Q:     When I pass the IDEX California® am I a Certified Interior Designer?

A:      No, Passing the IDEX California® does NOT mean candidates are automatically Certified!

  • Path 1 Candidates file held until Candidate provides proof of completion of qualifications.
  • All other Candidates must complete the certification process, and be given their CID number/stamp.

Q:     What is the next step after passing the IDEX California®?

A:      The Compliance Committee reviews and verifies information collected by CCIDC.

  • Congratulations letter sent upon approval and prompt to pay the Bi-Annual Certification Fees.
  • Candidates have 1 year from letter date to complete certification.

Q:     When I am a Certified Interior Designer?

A:      Candidates are Certified once the following have been completed.

  • Bi-Annual Certification fees received
  • Certification Number assigned.
  • Upon completion, New CIDs will be mailed:
    • CID Interior Designer Information Binder
    • CID Certificate
    • Verification Letter with CID#
    • CID ID-Card
    • Stamp (Only if Ordered – approximately 8 – 12 weeks later)***

Q:     What does it cost?

A:      There are generally two types of fees.

  • Total Fees due with application (Includes Application Fee + IDEX Exam Fee + Testing Center Fee**):
    • Path 1 & Path 2   $600 Total*
    • Path 3  & Path 4  $500 Total*
    • International Candidates (taking IDEX Exam outside of the US) $800 Total**
  • Total Bi-Annual Certification Fees* Due After Passing Exam and Compliance Approval:
    • ALL Candidates $250-$325***
  • * Fee is nonrefundable
  • ** For Candidates taking the test at centers outside the US
  • ***Dependant on Option Selected

Before applying for Certification, please be sure that you meet the Minimum Qualifications

When you apply for Certification, you will also need to provide:

  • Complete Online Application
  • Signed Code of Ethics
  • Proof of Education
  • Proof of diversified interior design experience
  • Photo copy of drivers license
  • Credit card payment or check payable to CCIDC for the:
    • One-time non-refundable application and processing fee
    • IDEX California® exam fee
    • Testing center fee
    • International Candidate Fee (if applicable)
      • For Candidates sitting for the IDEX outside the USA

Before you can be accepted for Certification, you will be required to pass the IDEX California® exam.

After passing the IDEX Exam, and AFTER required notification from CCIDC, the Certification fee will be due and payable for the initial two-year certification.

There will be a $50.00 charge for returned checks and for $25.00 Returned Credit Card transaction fees.

EXAMINATION FACT SHEET

The following is in response to the question, “Why doesn’t CCIDC require national interior design examinations, such as the NCIDQ examination, for the certification of interior designers in California?”

CCIDC MISSION STATEMENT

To establish and implement professional standards and educational requirements, educate the public, and facilitate interior design professional’s compliance with our standards and code of ethics in order to provide for the protection, health, safety and welfare of the public.

STATUTORY STATEMENT

Statutory requirement for all certified interior designers: CBPC § 5800 (a) and has demonstrated by means of education, experience, and examination, the competency to protect and enhance the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

In conjunction with the two statements above, the CCIDC board is charged with the responsibility to ensure that all designers who become Certified Interior Designers (CID) in California have been thoroughly tested on all of the requirements necessary to ensure for the protection of the California public. To test candidates for certification on elements not relevant or germane to practicing interior design in California is to fail in that responsibility. The only way to ensure the competency of CIDs for the California consumer is to test candidates on the California codes and Title 24.

REASONS CCIDC DOES NOT REQUIRE NATIONAL EXAMINATIONS

  1. Do not test on California codes.
  2. Do not test on California Title 24 accessibility and energy codes.
  3. Do not allow for experience only candidates as required by California law.
  4. Do not meet Section 139 of the California Business & Professions Code.
  5. Cannot take the examination right after graduation.
  6. Unregulated without government or regulatory oversight.
  7. Very expensive compared to other licensing and regulatory examinations.

MYTH vs. FACT

Myth: CCIDC does not recognize or accept other examinations.

Fact: CCIDC does accept the national interior design examinations in California, such as the NCIDQ examination along with all other interior design and architectural examinations, namely the NKBA (both parts CKD and CBD), CQRID, ARE (Architects examination),  NCBDC (Building designers examination) and the RIDQC.

Whether a candidate possess a national examination or not, because none of the national examinations test candidates on the California Building Codes (CBC) or Title 24 as they relate to interior design in California, the CCIDC board of directors requires all candidates to take a California specific examination.

For candidates who have already taken and passed a national examination CCIDC has created a special path for them that allows them to reciprocate the California application process by providing proof of passage of such an examination and in return receive a $100.00 discount from the CCIDC application fees.

It should be noted that none of the national interior design examinations, other than NCIDQ, object to their members having to take a California specific examination if they want to become certified in this state.

HISTORY

CCIDC created and required a California specific supplemental examination known as the “California Codes and Regulations Examination” (CCRE) in 1994. This examination was required in addition to a national examination (NCIDQ).  In 1999 CCIDC accepted two additional national interior design examinations, namely NKBA and CQRID, as well as the California specific supplemental examination, the CCRE.  At that time the CCRE was updated and expanded from 25 multiple choice questions to 75.

In 2001 CCIDC was directed by the Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee (JLSRC) through statute that all examinations utilized by CCIDC were to be required to conform to CBPC § 139 of the California Business and Professions Code (CBPC § 5801.1). Both NKBA and CQRID complied with CCIDC’s requests for psychometric evaluation data, but NCIDQ refused.  CCIDC was required by statute to report on the examination process and evaluation by September 1, 2008 (the date was extended by statute from 2002 to accommodate data collection and analysis).

In 2007 the CCIDC board could not justify the expense, time and effort of two examinations for certification candidates in California. The board resolved to go to one examination that would test, specifically, on California codes and Title 24, as well as ethics and business practices, California civil law that affects interior designers, and common design standards, specific to the practice of interior design in this state.

An offer for producing this “California” version of the examination was made to the NCIDQ by way of modifying their existing national examination to meet California standards, but again NCIDQ refused. This resulted in the culmination of the IDEX California examination, developed independently by CCIDC as a single test for certification candidates, an expanded and updated version of the CCRE.

FACTS REGARDING THE NCIDQ EXAMINATION

  1. Does not test on California Codes, which are different than any other state.

Section 5805 of the California Business and Professions Code (CBPC) states as follows:  Nothing in this chapter shall preclude certified interior designers or any other person from submitting interior design plans to local building officials, except as provided in Section 5538. In exercising discretion with respect to the acceptance of interior design plans, the local building official shall reference the California Building Standards Code.

The California Building Code is clearly defined in this statute and this is the code that all certified interior designers must be tested on in order to ensure that the interior design plans they are submitting conform to the laws and codes of this state.

  1. Does not test on Title 24 accessibility and energy conservation requirements, which are exclusive to California, and far exceed the requirements of the ADA.
    1. Title 24 is an integral part of the CBC and therefore the same applies as noted in item 1 above.
  1. Does not allow for applicants with “experience only” as required by the certified interior designers statute.
    1. Section 5801 (d) of the California Business and Professions Code (CBPC) states as follows:  He or she has at least eight years of interior design education, or at least eight years of diversified interior design experience, or a combination of interior design education and diversified interior design experience that together total at least eight years. None of the national “interior design” examinations allow candidates to apply for registration without an education requirement.
    2. NCIDQ allows candidates who do not possess or are unable to document the minimum educational requirement to apply using the Alternative Review Process (ARP). The ARP option is available to evaluate applicants who possess the same competencies as measured by traditional application routes, but took an unconventional path to gain that experience and education. ARP applicants must have a minimum of 8,800 hours of work experience in interior design and be able to document competencies based on current Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) standards This option costs an additional $595 and still requires post secondary education.
  1. Does not meet CBPC § 139 as contained within the California Business and Professions Code CBPC § 5801.1.
    1. CBPC § 139 through the OER Examination Validation Policy it promulgated requires all examinations under the jurisdiction of the DCA should ensure that passing standards are based upon “minimum competency criteria at an entry level to the profession.”
  2. Candidates cannot take the NCIDQ examination right after graduating from school, unlike the IDEX California, and other certification and licensing examinations used in California such as the Architects Registration Examination (ARE) and the Bar examination.
    1. NCIDQ candidates are required to have a minimum work experience* between 2 and 3-1/2 years of working experience under a specified eligible supervisor before applying. The education and supervised work experience matrix for the NCIDQ is too complex and convoluted to explain in this document.
    2. Since 2016, individuals in their final year of a Bachelor’s or Master’s Interior Design program have been able to take the Interior Design Fundamentals Exam section (IDFX) prior to graduation with no work experience required. Those following other educational pathways (e.g., Associates Degree) may take the exam immediately after completing their educational requirements, again with no work experience prerequisite. All candidates must gain work experience before completing the IDPX and Practicum sections of the exam.
  3. The NCIDQ examination is administered by a private non-profit 501(c) 6 corporation and has no direct government or regulatory oversight. The IDEX California administered by CCIDC is regulated by the statutory reporting requirements of Section 5811 CBPC and the overall sunset review process of the certified interior designer’s law. Whenever a private examination is written into statute without legislative oversight the application and qualification requirements can be changed at any time by the private entity that owns that examination, therefore creating a de facto change in the statute without public or legislative input.
  4. The NCIDQ examination is more than double the cost of the IDEX California examination, which is $600.00 ($450.00 registration plus $150.00 application), at over $1,325.00 in application and scheduling fees* and it still does not test on California codes or Title 24. Add to this the cost of preparation classes, reference books, etc., the costs could climb to over $2,000.00. This places a burden and undue hardship on a person trying to enter the profession and obtain a professional title or appellation to denote their academic and work experience accomplishment.

* https://www.cidq.org/fees

SUMMARY:

Requiring a national interior design examination, that does not test on the relevant codes and laws for California for certifying interior designers would be like using the Bar exam from another state to license attorneys in California, as an example.  The civil and criminal laws in California are different than in other states, so logically California should and does have its own Bar exam. The building, accessibility, and energy codes in California are also different than in other states, so logically California should and does have its own interior design certification examination, the IDEX California.

FAQ IDEX® California Exam

Q: When is the IDEX® California exam be given?

A: The IDEX® California examination will be given for a month in the Spring (May 1 – 31) and for a month in the Fall (October 1 – 31).

Q. What is cost to take the IDEX® California exam?

A: The cost to take the IDEX® California is $600 for Path 2 and Path 2; and $500 for Path 3 and Path 4. International candidates fee is $800.

Q: What if I failed the IDEX® California? What is my cost to retake it, and when is my registration deadline for the next exam?

A: For those who already took the IDEX® California and failed, their deadline to register is the next exam’s scheduled  deadline ‘to get in all paperwork’ (as you already have an application and file with CCIDC). The cost is $450.00  to take the exam a second time.

Q. Do you have a study guide? Also, the IDEX® California exam open book?

A: Yes, the “Official” IDEX® California Study Guide” is a free download that provides background and important information on the exam schedule, rules, release of results, exam format and content. It also contains 22 sample questions and an extensive FAQ section. It is NOT a ‘study manual’ per se.

There is no open book portion of the IDEX® California examination. Whenever there is a question on codes that require a book or table, that will be included on the screen with the question, so no books in the examination room will be required.

Q. I am thinking about taking the IDEX® in the future. If I were to purchase the study materials now, would they become obsolete? How often will the study materials be updated?

A: The IDEX California examination is based upon the most recently adopted version of the California Building Code. When an updated California Building Code comes out it has to be adopted by local jurisdictions. Once everyone has had a chance to review the changes CCIDC will determine what has to change in the examination. It is possible that those parts of the code that affect interior designers will not change and therefore the exam and the study materials will not change. Once an updated code is introduced it is normally a 2 year cycle to update exams and study related materials.

Q: Where do I take the IDEX® California exam?

A: There are over 35, IDEX® California test center locations throughout California. Additionally, there are more than 1,000 test center locations in over 95 countries that provide Internet-based testing in a proctored environment. You can find specific site information at: Castle Worldwide Internet based testing sites.

Q: How much study time is needed to prepare for the exam?

A: A lot has to do with what you already know and don’t know. If you already use and know the California Building Code and Title 24 in your day-to-day practice then you will require less studying time. If you don’t, then you will require a lot more and we would recommend you attend some of the prep classes that will be given. If you look at the examination classification system it gives you a good idea of the topics that will be covered in the IDEX® California. From this list you should be able to determine your knowledge base and make a suitable decision. Also, if you have a good education in interior design it would be a great help, but if you are applying under experience only there may be a deficiency in your knowledge base so you’ll have to study and prepare well for the exam.

Q: What do I need to know about taking the exam?

A: Here are Instructions on Taking the Exam

Q: I am already Certified. Do I need to take IDEX?

A: No, the exam is for new applicants. 

Q: Can CIDs take the IDEX® California if they want to?

A: Yes, it is completely optional, but NOT mandatory. CIDs who take IDEX® receive 10 hours of CEU credit (1.0) from CCIDC.  

Q: Do I need to take IDEX® AND a national exam? 

A: Only if you are planning to become a “professional member” of an association such as ASID, IIDA or NKBA (or for regulatory reasons in another state). If not, all you need to become Certified in California by CCIDC is passage of IDEX® California.

Q: I am already certified by CCIDC. Will IDEX® California have any impact on my credential?

A: No, those who are already Certified, or have been Certified in California in the past, will not be affected and will not have to take IDEX® California.  However, those who have allowed their certification to expire for 4 years or more will have to take the IDEX California in order to reactivate their certification and by paying the penalty and fees.

 Q: If IDEX® California is available online, does this mean I can take the exam at home on my personal computer anytime I like?

A: No, you may not take IDEX® California on your personal computer. Candidates must go to a proctored test center. (See test center cities). Proctored test centers are used by other professions such as the architects.  This is how the NCARB’s ARE and the online portion of the CQRID are handled. Proctored test centers are available all over California and help to prevent someone from cheating.

Q: Does IDEX®California have any design questions or is it only on codes?

A: Yes, the IDEX® California has approximately one-third design standards questions; one-third codes and California rules and regulations including the Civil Code (as it affects interior designers) and one-third business practices and ethics.

Q: How will the public or an employer know they are hiring a good designer if IDEX®California doesn’t heavily test on design?

A: The design ability of a Certified Interior Designer comes from their education and/or experience, all of which has to be met before one gets to use the title of Certified Interior Designer, not because they merely passed an exam.  When they pass IDEX® California, a client or an employer will be assured the CID knows the law and the codes. All designers prove their design ability with their project portfolio which they build through their education and/or experience. It is important to remember that certification is “minimum competency at entry level” as required by California law. IDEX® California will be no different than any other profession which tests for “minimum competency at entry level”. 

It goes without saying that a CID with 5 years of experience isn’t going to have the depth and breadth as a CID with 25 years of experience. Consumers or employers wishing to hire a CID will assess that designer’s education, experience, and design portfolio and make their choice accordingly. For example, one wouldn’t hire an inexperienced lawyer (right out of school) who just passed the bar exam to represent them at a murder trial. Likewise you wouldn’t hire an architect who just got his or her license to design a 50-story high-rise or a hospital.  

Q: You mention 5 years diversified interior design working experience as the minimum requirement for those without education in order to take IDEX ® CaliforniaWill self-employment or employment under a mentor count?

A: Yes, we will allow self-employment, mentored or otherwise, as we have done all along under the current CID program. Interior design experience is recognized, and, unlike other organizations, California is a vast state and in some of the out-lying areas it would be difficult to work under a specific type of professional or mentor that might be hundreds of miles away. 

Q: If you do accept self-employment, how does CCIDC verify it?

A: Proof of experience is verified through copies of tax returns also letters from CPAs or attorneys attesting to their professional services, i.e. bookkeeping, tax returns, setting up corporations, etc., for these individuals. Also, a list of clients with contact information and the work performed can also serve as verification, although the former method is preferred. Whatever it takes to prove they have been active and in business as interior designers for the required amount of time

Q. Will new CIDs be as qualified as those took one of the old exams?

A: Yes, because examinations are not the only requirement for certification. Specific education and experience are also necessary to become a CID, and these requirements have not changed. IDEX® California will emphasize public protection and safety as its emphasis will be on codes and regulations. By contrast, “design” exams although they touch on codes, do more to test a candidate’s design ability as opposed to public protection which is the purpose of certification.

Q. I’m licensed in another state and moving to California. Is there reciprocity?

A: There is no direct reciprocity; however, Path 3 is for those who have taken and passed one of the national interior design or architectural examinations. Anyone who wants to become a CID in California will have to take the IDEX California exam and pass it, whether they are licensed, registered, certified in another state or have taken and passed the CQRID, NCIDQ, or both parts of the NKBA. There is a streamlined application process and fee discount for Path 3 Candidates.

Q. Is IDEX® California easier than national exams (CQRID, NCIDQ, NKBA)?

A: No, because IDEX® tests candidates on specific subjects confined mostly to Health, Safety & Welfare (HS&W) issues and California codes to protect the public. It is a vigorous and thorough examination of one’s knowledge on these issues which are specific to California.

Q. Why doesn’t California require the NCIDQ to become a Certified Interior Designer?

A: The difference between the IDEX® California and the national exams is that the national exams are interior design exams, and the IDEX® California is a “certification” exam. None of the national exams test candidates on the California Building Code or Title 24 which is different from all other states. Only the IDEX tests for the CBC and Title 24 plus all other laws and codes relevant to interior designers in California.

The NCIDQ does not conform to California law, because it does not allow “experience only” candidates to apply (those with 8 years or more of diversified interior design experience).  It also does not meet the definition of “minimum competency at entry level” which is required by California law, Section 139 of the B&P Code. “Minimum competency at entry level” is defined as working five years under a licensed or registered (in our case Certified) practitioner. It also does not allow graduating students to sit for the exam until they have a proscribed amount of working experience. The latter also applies to both the CQRID and the NKBA exams. See our Comparison of Examinations in California in left column.

Q. What should I do if I have other questions about IDEX® California?

A:  For specific questions, contact us.

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS ISSUED TO EACH IDEX EXAM CANDIDATE UPON CONFIRMATION: 


To be admitted to the examination you must:

Submit your CONFIRMATION NOTICE to the proctor.
Bring current photo identification (Driver’s license, immigration card, passport, State ID card, etc.). 
        You will NOT be admitted without proper identification.
Report on time. 

General Instructions:

Smoking is NOT permitted in the examination site. Food and beverages are NOT allowed in the examination area. All personal items including books, notebooks, other papers, all electronic equipment (i.e. cell phones, cameras, etc.), book bags, coats, etc. will NOT be allowed in the exam room and must be left outside of the exam room AT YOUR OWN RISK. 

Friends and relatives, including children, will NOT be allowed in the examination building.

Computer-based testing facilities offer exam services to multiple agencies. There may be other individuals in the testing room with you who are sitting for exams from different organizations. The rules for their exam may be slightly different than the rules for your exam in terms of exam time, and what is and is not allowed at their station.

Computer-based tests are delivered via secure internet connections. Internet connections are subject to the local internet providers in the area. While it is not the norm, internet connections can, on occasion, be lost momentarily, requiring the proctor to log you back into your examination. If this occurs, inform the proctor that your connection has been lost and they will assist you in logging back in to your exam. Your exam time remaining will be exactly the same as it was when the internet connection was lost.

Prohibited Items: 

Candidates are expressly prohibited from bringing the following items to the test site:

  • Cameras, smart/cell phones, tablets, optical readers, or other electronic devices that include the ability to photograph, photocopy or otherwise copy test materials,
  • notes, books, dictionaries or language dictionaries, book bags or luggage, purses or handbags,
  • iPods, mp3 players, headphones, or pagers, calculators (except as expressly permitted by the test sponsor), computers, PDAs, or other electronic devices with one or more memories,
  • personal writing utensils (i.e., pencils, pens, and highlighters),
  • watches,
  • food and beverage,
  • hats, hoods, or other headgear, coats and jackets.

    Please note that sweaters and sweatshirts without pockets or hoods are permitted.

If the proctor determines that you have brought any such items to the test site, they may be demanded and held by SCANTRON testing staff. SCANTRON reserves the right to review the memory of any electronic device to determine whether any test materials have been photographed or otherwise copied. If the review determines that any test materials are in the memory of any such device, SCANTRON reserves the right to delete such materials and/or retain them for subsequent disciplinary action. Upon completion of the review and any applicable deletions, SCANTRON will return your device to you, but will not be responsible for the deletion of any materials that may result from our review, whether or not such materials are test materials. By bringing any such device into the test site in contravention of our policies, you expressly waive any confidentiality or other similar rights with respect to your device, our review of the memory of your device and/or the deletion of any materials. SCANTRON, the examination site, and the test administration staff are not liable for lost or damaged items brought to the examination site. 

Environmental Distractions
: Examination room temperature can be unpredictable; therefore, we suggest that you bring appropriate clothing with you (e.g. sweatshirt) to help you adapt to a cooler or warmer climate in the examination room. Bring ear plugs if you are sensitive to noise. With any computer or Internet-based program, temporary connection failures or other temporary technical issues may occur. If they occur, summon the proctor and she or he will assist you. Please note that PASS will save your responses and stop the timer during any connection failure so that you do not lose any examination time.

Note: Not every site will be available for every testing window. Once you are approved to take the IDEX® California you will receive a web link with your notice to schedule that lists specifically which sites, dates, and times are available during the testing window for which you are scheduling.

Download: IDEX Study Guide

A free, 29-page booklet prepared by CCIDC. Provides background information on the IDEX® California exam, including the schedule, rules, release of results, exam format, content, sample questions and an FAQ (not intended to be a ‘study manual’).

IDEX Study Materials


The “Official” IDEX® California Study Guide 
A free, 29-page booklet prepared by CCIDC. Provides background information on the IDEX® California exam, including the schedule, rules, release of results, exam format, content, sample questions and an FAQ (not intended to be a ‘study manual’).

Third-party classes and materials

IDEX Prep

Online Class

by Deni Mosser, CID

The Original IDEX CA Prep Class

On-Line and In-Person Classes

by Carol Lamkins, CID

Books

California Codes and Regulations for Interior Designers Resource Manual

California Legislative Coalition for Interior Design (CLCID)


Disclaimer:  CCIDC is not affiliated in any way with any third party exam preparation company or organization.  CCIDC does not endorse or recommend any third party exam preparation company or organization. The contact and other information provided by CCIDC is only intended as a courtesy to those interested in utilizing the service of such third party exam preparation companies and organizations.  CCIDC received no compensation or other benefit from such third party exam preparation companies or organizations for providing such contact and other information to future or prospective exam takers. No guarantee, warranty or representation is made by CCIDC that any exam taker will pass any exam as a result of using its study guide or the study materials of third party exam preparation companies or organizations. CCIDC is not responsible for, and expressly disclaim all liability resulting in or for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to or reliance on such materials.  While the information contained within this site and CCIDC’s study guide materials is believed to be accurate, no guarantee is given that the information provided on this website is correct, complete and up-to-date. The study material found on this website has been prepared by the best efforts and knowledge of all parties involved. If you believe that any of the information contained herein is inaccurate or requires updating, please feel free to contact us. CCIDC values your feedback.  Use of CCIDC’s study materials constitutes your review, approval and acceptance of these terms and conditions.  CCIDC reserves the right to make changes to this disclaimer at any time, without notification. It is therefore recommended that users review our disclaimer and associated terms and conditions on a regular basis. For any questions regarding our policies, disclaimers or conditioners please contact us.

California Council for Interior Design Certification

The standard for interior designers in the State of California
“Public Protection Through Examination and Certification”

 

365 W. Second Ave, Suite 102

Escondido, CA 92025

E-mail: CCIDC

Candidate Satisfaction Survey
The CCIDC Board strives for excellence and we want to make sure you are satisfied with our performance and meet your expectations. Please help us serve you better by filling in this CONFIDENTIAL SURVEY.

We appreciate your interest in Certified Interior Designers and CCIDC.

Sincerely,
CALIFORNIA COUNCIL FOR INTERIOR DESIGN CERTIFICATION – CCIDC, Inc.

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