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California Council for Interior Design Certification
The standard for interior designers in the State of California
“Public protection through examination and Certification”

FAQ on the New Exam for 2009 

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Q: If I have already passed the current CCRE or I'm taking it this year and pass, will I have to take the new exam later  if I have waited to take one of the three recognized national exams?

A: No, we will honor all those who have taken and passed the current CCRE regardless of when they take and pass their chosen national examination.

Q: If  I have already signed up to take the current CCRE in 2008 and have no other reason to take a national exam, can I postpone it and take the new exam in 2009?

A: Yes, we will transfer you to the new exam without penalty and will either refund your $100.00 or credit it to you when you register for the new exam. Either way you can defer your plans to take just the one certification examination.

Q. If I take the exam to become a CID this October of 2008 and pass; will I meet the same qualifications as those taking the new exam in 2009? Meaning: is there any difference on record between those taking it in the past vs. in 2009.  Will the past CIDs still have to take the NCIDQ, for example, to reach the 2009 status?  I’m deciding as to whether I should wait or just go for it now.

A: The answer to your first question is no, the current CCRE is only 75 questions and the codes section is on old, now ‘out-of-date’ codes, and requires the addition of one of three acceptable national exams in order to comply. The new exam will be much more comprehensive and will be at least double in size, perhaps greater, and it will cover more areas.
If you have taken and passed one of the three national exams (CQRID, NCIDQ, NKBA) already, we would recommend you take the current CCRE this October 2008. If you haven't taken one of the three national exams,  then we advise you to wait until 2009 and take the new exam as that is the only exam you will need to take in order to become a CID. Of course you will also need to meet the other requirements of education and experience, depending under which
category you are applying. So, to answer your question fully, wait until 2009.

Q: I am already certified by CCIDC. Will this new exam 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. Those who have allowed their certification to expire for any reason will still be able to reactivate their certification by paying the proscribed penalty and fees.

Q: Will more designers become certified under this new exam?

A: Over 4,000 designers have been certified so far, and around 3,000 are active. We get  approximately 100 new CID's each year under the current program. By allowing "experience only" (8 years or more diversified interior design experience) candidates and graduating students taking the new examination will likely expose the certification program to a larger pool of candidates. Typically,  with other examinations,  a candidate has to wait several years before they can even apply to sit for the exam, and of course life gets in the way (career, marriage, children, etc.), and examinations end up taking a back seat. The best opportunity for a candidate to take and pass any examination is right out of school, which is why architectural graduates are allowed to take the ARE and law school graduates are allowed to take the bar exam right away. It doesn't make them architects or lawyers, but one big hurdle is out of the way.

Q: Will the new exam be larger and more difficult than the current CCRE?

A: Yes, the new exam will be larger. The current CCRE consists of 75 multiple choice questions (25 open book, and 50 closed book) and takes about 3 hours. The new examination will be at least 200 questions, possibly more, and will be only available online at designated testing centers.

Q: Your new exam information says it will be 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 the exam on your personal computer. A candidate will have to go to a proctored test center such as Sylvan Learning Centers or H.&. R. Block (actual test centers are still to be determined). 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. Will the new exam have any design questions or will it only be on codes?

A: The new exam will be mostly on codes and California rules and regulations, including the Civil Code as it affects interior designers. It has not been fully determined yet, but there could be some design questions.

Q. How will the public or an employer know they are hiring a good designer if your exam 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 the certification exam 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. Our new certification 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 designers 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 the new exam.
Will self-employment count and also employment under a mentor?

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: In the past, we have requested and received copies of tax returns (with covered up financial information if they prefer), and also letters from CPAs and attorneys attesting to their professional services, i.e. bookkeeping, tax returns, setting up corporations, etc., for these individuals. Whatever it takes to prove they have been active and in business as interior designers for the proscribed amount of time. Also, a list of clients with contact information and the work performed can also serve as verification, although the former method is preferred.

Q. When will CCIDC have a study guide for the new exam?

A: A new study guide will be prepared at the same time as the new examination. The study guide should be ready and available at the same time the new exam is launched in 2009. If you are interested in taking the new 2009 Certification Exam and want to receive news on study materials, upcoming dates, etc., please complete this form.

Q. What will the new exam cost? How will the new cost compare to the other 3 exams you now accept?

A: We do not have a cost yet. The new examination needs to be completed and a determination of the online availability and many other attributes have to be taken into consideration. However, because CCIDC is a nonprofit, our goal is not to make a profit from the new exam but need to cover its expenses. We anticipate new examination fee to be considerably less than the current national examinations.

Q. How long will CCIDC still  accept passage of the CQRID, NCIDQ and NKBA exams?

A: As soon as the new examination is in place,  it will be the only examination necessary to become a CID. For those who have taken one of the 3 national exams and are planning to
take the current CCRE, it will be available on October 18, 2008 in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. If there are sufficient numbers beyond that date it may be given again, however,  one must realize it is based upon the old codes and the board doesn't see any purpose for candidates in learning old codes in order to pass an out-of-date examination.

Q. Will the new CIDs be as qualified  as those who have already taken 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. The new exam 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 candidates 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: No reciprocity, everyone who wants to become a CID in California after the new exam is in place, will have to take 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.

Q. Is this new exam an upgrade (or a downgrade) to certification?

A: The new exam is certainly not a downgrade nor technically an upgrade. It is an attempt to bring the certification examination process in line with California law (Section 139 B&P Code) and keep it inclusive without discriminating against anyone who wants to take it. After passing the exam you are still not a CID unless you have met all the other education and experience requirements.

Q. Will the new exam be easier than the 3 national exams?

A: No, because our new exam will test candidates on specific subjects confined mostly to Health, Safety & Welfare (HS&W) issues and to protecting the public. It will be a vigorous and thorough examination of one's knowledge on these issues.

Q. I’m confused. I thought the NCIDQ was the exam needed to be a qualified interior designer, and now California won’t require it. Why?

A: The NCIDQ exam 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.

Q. I have a question about the new exam that wasn’t answered here.  Who should I contact?

A: If you are interested in taking the new 2009 Certification Exam and want to receive news on study materials, upcoming dates, etc., please complete this form. Or, you may e-mail  Doug Stead, CCIDC’s Vice-President/Executive Director.

This new examination is a big project to develop and pay for. CCIDC is seeking donations to help offset this expense. If you are looking for ways to reduce your tax liability and help the interior design profession in California, we are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so all your donations for this new exam are tax-deductible. Please click here to make a donation.
View the Donor List.  Thank you.

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