CCIDC _ California Council for Interior Design Certification

1605 Grand Avenue, Suite 4
San Marcos, CA 92078
Phone: 760 - 761-4734  / Fax: 760 - 761-4736
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California Council for Interior Design Certification
Provides for the protection, health, safety and welfare of the public by administering the California Certified Interior Designer Title Act.

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Remodeling and Home Design

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ updated 3/2/17


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

A: The IDEX® examination will be given for a month in the Spring (May) and for a month in the Fall (October).
Find the next exam dates here.

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. International candidates fee is $800. Register for IDEX here

Q. What is the difference between IDEX® and the NCIDQ? 

A: See our Comparison of Examinations in California.

Q: What if I failed the IDEX®?  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 for the next exam’s deadline ‘to get in all paperwork’ (as you already have an application and file with CCIDC). The cost is $375.00 to take the exam a second time.

Q. Do you have a study guide? Also, wasn’t the 2005 CCRE exam ‘open book’ and if so, will this exam be open book as well?

A:Yes, the "Official" IDEX® California Study Guide is a free, 32-page 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. Download the IDEX® California Study Guide and find third-party study classes and

There is no open book portion of the IDEX®, which is good, because that was, by far, the hardest portion of the old CCRE. 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. This will make it a lot easier.

Fill out an
IDEX® California interest form, we will keep you up to date on IDEX news and when study materials become available.

Q. I am thinking about taking the IDEX® in 2014. If I were to purchase the study guides now, would they be obsolete for next year? How often will the study materials be updated?

A: The IDEX exam for 2014 has already been prepared and is based upon the 2007 California codes along with the study manual and prep classes. They will not change until possibly after 2014. An updated California Building Code came out and needs to be adopted by local jurisdictions. Once everyone has had a chance to review the changes we cannot say what will change. It is highly likely 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: Here is a list of site locations

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 I 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
® 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. If you want to take IDEX® you will 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.
See our
Comparison of Examinations in 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® CaliforniaHowever, 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 IDEX® California?

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 IDEX® California 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 IDEX® California be larger and more difficult than your old exam, the CCRE?

A: Yes, IDEX® California will be larger. The old CCRE consisted of 75 multiple choice questions (25 open book, and 50 closed book)  and took about 3 hours. IDEX® California will be 150 questions, closed book and will take 3 hours. Here are instructions on Taking the Exam

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. A candidate will have to 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 1/3 design questions; 1/3 codes and California rules and regulations including the Civil Code (as it affects interior designers) and 1/3 business practices. See the IDEX® California Classification System.

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 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 IDEX ® California. 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. 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. 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 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: There is no reciprocity. Anyone who wants to become a CID in California will have to take the IDEX 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.

Q. Is IDEX® California an upgrade (or a downgrade) to certification?

A: IDEX® California 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 IDEX you are still not a CID unless you have met all the other education and experience requirements.

Q. Is IDEX® California easier than the 3 national exams?

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.

Q. I’m confused. I thought the NCIDQ was needed to be a Certified Interior Designer, and now California doesn’t require it.  Why?

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.

Q. I have a question about IDEX® California that wasn’t answered here. Who should I contact?

A: If you are interested in taking IDEX® California and want to receive news on study materials, upcoming dates, etc., please complete this form. For specific questions, contact us.


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