Having trouble reading this? If so, go to


California Council for Interior Design Certification
The standard for interior designers in the State of California

1605 Grand Avenue - Suite 4
San Marcos, CA 92078
Tel. 760-761-4734  Fax 760-761-4736
CCIDC Web site

Anniversary Edition

Happy Birthday, CCIDC!



In this issue
* 20 Years of Certification
* Frequently Asked Questions
Download this issue



20 Years of Interior Design Certification

20 years ago, Senate Bill 153 (Craven) became law and created the legal title of "Certified Interior Designer" (under
Section 5800 of the California Business & Professions Code). At that time, the legislature chose not to create a “state” board but instead allowed the profession to form its own “private, nonprofit board” to administer the CID law.

Innovative Concept
The unprecedented creation of CCIDC as California's first private, nonprofit board started a trend for regulatory boards. The California legislature has thus far created *five private certification boards where they deemed it unnecessary to warrant “direct” supervision by the state or by the Department of Consumer Affairs. Private boards are not a burden on taxpayers as we are supported by our respective professions' certification fees.

Like all other private boards (as well as state regulatory boards), CCIDC is held accountable by the California legislature through the Sunset Review process. Our next Sunset Review is slated for 2012, whereby our Board of Directors will respond to a lengthy questionnaire on our operations to the Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee (
JLSRC), and attend a public hearing at the state Capitol in Sacramento where the JLSRC will direct questions to the CCIDC board and staff.

Looking Forward
Since our inception, CCIDC has successfully certified over 4,600 interior designers. We look forward to another 20 years of certifying designers, educating the public about CIDs, continuing our outreach to building officials and helping students learn about certification as a career path as certification is the highest legal and professional credential for interior designers in California.

* Private boards written into California state law as of March 1, 2011.
Certified Industrial Hygienists -  BPC Section 20700
Registered Tax Preparers - BPC Section 22250
Certified Massage Therapists - BPC Section 4600
Certified Common Interest Development Managers - BPC Section 11500
Certified Interior Designers - BPC Section 5800

  Frequently Asked Questions on Certification

Q – Is Certification a state-regulated credential in California?
A – Certified Interior Designer is a credential written into state statute in Chapter 3.9, Section 5800 of the California Business and Professions Code. The state regulates this statute,  just as they do with all laws and statutes. CCIDC does not regulate the state statute; we only administer it as we are the qualifying interior design organization described in Section 5800(b).

Q – Is Certification state run or accountable to the state?
A –Certification in California is not state run because that is the way the legislature wrote the statute. Did they leave it up to the control of CCIDC without any state accountability?  No! Section 5810(a) states “This chapter shall be subject to the review required by Division 1.2 (commencing with Section 473).” This subjects the “interior design organization” (CCIDC) to Sunset Review prior to the repeal of the statute (which currently stands at January 1, 2014). CCIDC is subject to legislative review and accountability like all other state and “private” boards.

Q – Who can design Federal projects?
A – Federal procurement documents (which can easily be found online) clearly state that contractors (those vying for Federal contracts) “shall have an interior designer certified by the NCIDQ, or state and/or jurisdiction Certified, Registered, or Licensed Interior Designer”. This applies to State contracts as well.

Many designers do not understand that NCIDQ does not legally “certify” anyone, even though it is stated on their web site FAQ. Designers who pass the (“private”) NCIDQ exam are deemed “certificate holders”.

Q –Is CCIDC “self-certification”?
A –No.  Interior designers cannot “self-certify” themselves.  

Q – Am I a member of CCIDC?
A –No, you are not a member. Once you become a “Certified Interior Designer”, the legal title is granted to you in accordance with state statute. CCIDC is not a “membership” organization; we are a certification board in accordance with BPC Section 5800.

Q – Is there an education requirement and has testing changed multiple times?
A –Certification has education (and experience) requirements as stated in Section 5801. There are four categories of combinations. The first three categories contain specific “education” requirements. The fourth category is a combination of “education” and / or “experience”, which means it could be met by all experience of “at least eight years”.

It is interesting to note that most regulatory title acts and practice acts in California do contain provisions for “experience only” candidates. Included are architects and attorneys as examples. These provisions were put there by the California legislature.

It is the responsibility of the certification board to ensure that any examination used in accordance with Section 5801 be appropriate to protecting the health, safety and welfare of the California public. CCIDC's IDEX California
® is the only examination that tests candidates on California codes, regulations, and Title 24. No other exam in the United States meets these requirements. 

Q – Is it true that ASID and IDEC no longer support CCIDC?
A – Neither of these organizations, nor any other organization, has ever “supported” us in any monetary, or in any other sense whatsoever. What they have done is assist in the appointment of a person to the CCIDC board (as contained within our Bylaws). Other organizations with designated seats on the board continue to participate in choosing their representative.

Q – If we become state “registered” or state “licensed” in California we will be able to submit our plans for building permits? Is it true that currently only owners, a licensed architect, or a licensed engineer can pull building permit?
A – It is not written into any statute in California that being “registered”, “licensed”, or “certified”, automatically grants you the right to submit plans for a building permit. This decision rests with local building officials, not whether you are licensed or registered. This puts the responsibility of the decision making process on the local building official, and not on the state of California. Being “registered” or “licensed” in California will not change who can and who cannot submit plans for permits. Every individual building department has their own standards for building permit submissions as they deem necessary for the safety of the public.

Q – I'm Certified by CCIDC.  What if my plans are turned away at the plan check counter?
A –If your stamped plans are turned away at the plan check counter, there is a process in place on the CCIDC web site for “Plan Check Denial”. Upon submitting the form, CCIDC will engage with the local building department on your behalf to help you with your plan check submission. This free service is available only  to current “Certified Interior Designers”.

CCIDC also publishes brochures specifically written for building officials and those are available to all Certified Interior Designers free of charge. These brochures can be used to help educate building officials on your professional credential.

In addition, CALBO published the “Building Official Guide to Licensing Requirements” to clarify all licensing, registration and certification requirements in California and it includes a complete section on Certified Interior Designers and CCIDC. This guide is available for purchase. Here is the CALBO Publication Order form:

Q – Are interior designers, including CIDs, limited to work in commercial buildings that are less than two stories in height?
A –
No, all interior designers, including CIDs, can do all work that is allowed under Sections 5537 and 5538 of the Business & Professions Code. This includes commercial work in high-rise buildings that is nonstructural and non-seismic, and does not adversely affect the safety of the building. Always check with your local building official first.

Q – Are “Certified Interior Designers” recognized in the built environment as professionals with full legal recognition to stamp and seal construction drawings for nonstructural and non-seismic plans?
A –5801 of the CID statute provides that a “certified interior designer may obtain a stamp” … “that shall include a number that uniquely identifies and bears the name of that certified interior designer.” The stamp is for CIDs to use and seal their construction drawings for nonstructural, nonseismic plans. Note that an exemption described in Sections 5537 and 5538 of the Architects practice act that anyone can submit plans for a building permit as long as the work does not exceed that which is described. If the work does exceed that as described under these exemptions, then they are practicing architecture, or engineering, without a license.

Q – I graduated from an interior architecture program. Can I call myself an "interior architect"?
A – Anyone who uses the word "architect" in their title, or uses the words "architecture" or "architectural" to describe the work they do, must have an "architects" license in California. To do so without such a license is to hold oneself out as an "architect" without a license and is a misdemeanor and subject to a citation and fine from the California Architects Board (BPC Section 5536). Do not call yourself an "Interior Architect" unless you have a valid architects license from the State of California.

Q – Do interior designers need to have a state registration to ensure the protection of the public and to ensure interior designers the right to work to their fullest capacity, with a scope of work defined by law?
A –To protect the public, Certified Interior Designers must meet education, experience and testing requirements on California codes. CIDs are required to sign and abide by a strict Code of Ethics and Conduct and to take continuing education units to stay current on codes and professional practice. In addition, California already has many laws - both criminal and civil – including the California Building Code to ensure protection of the public.

Creating a state “registration” for interior designers will not “ensure their right to work”, only their talent and hard efforts at work will ensure that, and even then,  there is no guarantee.  Nothing in the current certification statute prevents anyone from working to their “fullest capacity” or prevents them from working as an interior designer or calling themselves an interior designer.

Q – I heard that being a Certified Interior Designer is useless because it isn’t a state title and is granted by a private company which uses a private test that it alone recognizes.
A –“Certified Interior Designer” is the only legally recognized title for interior designers in the state of California. This title was granted by the California legislature and the “private” company was also created at the request of the California legislature because they did not see the need for a state run, taxpayer funded regulatory board at that time or since.

The title establishes a legally recognized credential that requires a demonstration by means of a combination of education, experience and examination that is verified by CCIDC. Interior designers who are not “certified” by CCIDC have not demonstrated their qualifications.

The title “Certified Interior Designer” is protected by law, specifically in Section 5812, and makes it an unfair business practice to call oneself a Certified Interior Designer unless they comply with the law. This is the same law that protects all other professional titles in California.

Under Section 5801 the “interior design organization (CCIDC) was granted the power by the California legislature to approve the interior design examination. Most examinations used in California, as in many other states, are “private” examinations. The NCIDQ, the CQRID, the NKBA examinations are all private examinations, as is the architect’s examination, the Architects Registration Examination (ARE). Most Bar exams are private examinations, either the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) or the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). Like the architects do for their exam in California, most states also include a supplemental examination where appropriate based upon the codes and laws of that particular state.

CCIDC developed the
IDEX California® examination, in conjunction with Castle Worldwide one of the largest psychometric test development companies in the world.

With the expertise and total supervision of Castle Worldwide, the IDEX California
® was written and developed by a group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) comprised of experienced Certified Interior Designers, Registered Architects, Licensed Engineers, Licensed Contractors, Certified Building Officials, Fire Marshals, and interior design educators.

Students can take the IDEX California
® examination right out of school after graduation, just like the Bar examination or the Architects Registration Examination. Passing the IDEX California® does not make one a Certified Interior Designer as all other requirements for education and work experience have to be satisfied as well.

Q – Does CCIDC place students and designers at a disadvantage because certification is sold to them as more than it actually is?
A – Certification is not sold to anyone, nor is it mandatory. Certification is a voluntary process for interior designers who meet high professional standards, qualifications and experience. To  understand “certification” in California requires education, not selling. You can find out more about Certification on the CCIDC Web site.
Please feel free to
e-mail us if you have any questions.

eNews is published by the California Council for Interior Design Certification
“Public Protection Through Examination and Certification"
Est. 1991 - 2011

Download this issue

Read our past issues of eNews - Simply click and scroll to archives.

Keep your  subscription current -
Unsubscribe your old address and subscribe your new one.