Candidate Information

CALIFORNIA CERTIFIED INTERIOR DESIGNERS TITLE ACT – IT’S THE 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.
  • Certification in California is a Title Act, it is not a license or registration (Practice Act). The Certified Interior Designer’s Title Act is the only thing recognized by the state.

Certified Interior Designer (CID) Application and Instructions

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

  • With your interior design certification, California legally recognizes you as an interior designer.
    • This is the only legally recognized title for interior designers in California.
  • With your interior design certification 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 title act 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 (CID)?
(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. 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 (including Live Remote Proctoring (LRP)) 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?

Information on the IDEX® California examination is provided on the CCIDC website including a free download of the official CCIDC study guide and application instructions. 

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 theIDEX® 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 (CID) 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:

  • Q: What is Certification?
    A: Certification in California is a Title Act.
    • The Certified Interior Designer Title Act is written into law.
    • California Business and Professions Code 5800 – 5812
    • Certification is not a license or registration (Practice Act).
    • There is not Licensing or Registration for interior Designers in California.
    • The Certified Interior Designer’s Title Act is the only thing recognized by the state.

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 Combined Coursework Units in the Following Categories (Excluding General Education Courses):

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/60Quarter Core Units from accredited design program
  • Education requirements to complete certification vary.
  • Option for experience-only candidates to apply is available, details to follow.

Q: What is the Definition of Diversified Design Experience?
A: Design Experience Including:

  • Prepare complex nonstructural or non-seismic plans
  • Instruction for the preparation of complex nonstructural or non-seismic plans
    • Complex nonstructural or non-seismic plans:
      • Require the skills of a licensed contractor to implement
      • Includes programming, planning, designing, and documenting construction
      • Installation of nonstructural or non-seismic 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)
    1. Plus two years of diversified design experience
  2. 60 – 79 Semester Core Units from accredited design program (90+ Quarter Units)
    1. Plus three years of diversified design experience.
  3. 40 – 59 Semester Core Units from accredited design program (60+ Quarter Units)
    1. Plus four years of diversified design experience.
  4. Minimum eight years eight years of diversified design experience, interior design, or combination of both, which 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,  LEED-AP, NCBDC, NCIDQ, NKBA-CKBD, RIDQC*
*Must Also Have 2 Years Diversified Work Experience.

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 and provide proof of passing one of the following examinations.
ARE, CQRID,  LEED-AP, NCBDC, NCIDQ, NKBA-CKBD, RIDQC*
*Must Also Have 2 Years Diversified Work Experience.

Candidates must provide proof of passing these 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 Candidates MUST pass the IDEX California® to qualify for Certification in California

Q: How do I Apply?
A: Qualified Candidates apply online:

  • Complete and submit the online application
  • Email requested documents to the CCIDC Certification Coordinator
  • 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 registration deadline.
    • Registration Deadline for the Spring IDEX® California Examination is March 1st
    • Registration Deadline for the Fall IDEX® California Examination is August 1st
    • Incomplete applications deferred to future testing period, NO Exceptions.
  • Candidates have 1 year from registration approval to sit for exam.
  • Candidates retaking the IDEX®, must pay retest fees prior to respective registration deadline

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/or online proctoring option for exam.
• Live Remote Proctoring (LRP) option available.
• 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

  • Thirty-page booklet Includes:
    • Exam information, schedule, rules, exam format, content, sample questions and FAQ.
    • Information regarding study materials and classes, provided by third-party vendors.

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 am I 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
      • Rubber or Digital 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: $700 Total*
    • Path 3 & Path 4: $600 Total*
  • Total Bi-Annual Certification Fees*
    • Due After Passing Exam and Compliance Approval:
    • ALL Candidates $275-$350***

* Fee is nonrefundable
***Dependent 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

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.

Applying For Certification/IDEX® California Exam

  • Applications submitted August 2nd – March 1st will be reviewed for the Spring/May Exam period.
  • Applications submitted March 2nd – August 1st will be reviewed for the Fall/October Exam period.
  • Candidates needing to retake the IDEX® California Exam must pay all retest fees prior to the corresponding deadline. 
  • Candidates should apply only when ready to sit for the IDEX® California Examination.
    • Candidate’s eligibility period will begin upon application approval.
  • Application fees must be paid for an application to be reviewed
    • The fees are non-refundable.
  • Candidates have 1-Year from application approval to sit for the IDEX® California Exam, or applications and fees will be nullified, and the full process will have to be repeated successfully to gain certification.
  • To be eligible for the IDEX® California Exam, candidates must fully meet the eligibility requirements, including education and/or work experience, when applying.
  • Deficient applications are held for three years. After that time, candidates will need to start the application process over from the beginning, including submitting all materials, paying all fees, and meeting eligibility requirements.
  • OFFICIAL EDUCATION TRANSCRIPTS
    • Official transcripts must be requested directly from the institution attended and submitted to CCIDC
    • Request official transcripts be submitted electronically to the CCIDC Certification Coordinator
    • Otherwise, official transcripts may be sent in a sealed envelope via trackable mail to CCIDC.
    • Transcripts received in unsealed or tampered envelopes will not be accepted.
    • Only Core Units will be considered for qualification
      • Core units are calculated by semester units
        • Quarter units will be converted into Semester Units
      • General Education courses do not qualify towards core units.
  • DIVERSIFIED DESIGN EXPERIENCE VERIFICATION
    • 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
          • Internships
          • Self Employment
          • Outside Employment

Pathways to Certification

To be eligible for the IDEX® California and begin the certification process, a candidate must furnish evidence of completing the required education and/or diversified design work experience in interior design or architectural work. Candidates must meet the minimum education/experience requirements to apply. A description of each path is below:

Path 1 Candidates

Candidates who have a minimum 40 Core Units or 5 years of Diversified Design Experience and have not yet met the minimum qualifications for certification, may take the IDEX® California Exam. Upon successfully passing the IDEX® California Exam and completing the required education/work experience, candidates must submit proof of completed work/education requirements to CCIDC to be considered for completing the certification process.

Path 2 Candidates

Candidates who meet both the Education and/or work experience requirements at the time of application, will be eligible to complete the certification process upon successful completion of the IDEX® California Exam.

Path 3 Candidates

Candidates who meet both the Education and/or work experience requirements and have successfully passed one of the qualifying National Interior Design Exams, at the time of application, will be eligible to complete the certification process upon successful completion of the IDEX® California Exam.

Path 4 Candidates

Candidates who mainly practice commercial design, meet both the Education and/or work experience requirements and has successfully passed one of the qualifying National Interior Design Exams, at the time of application, will be eligible to complete the certification process with a commercial designation, upon successful completion of the IDEX® California Exam and passing required ICC Courses.