NCIDQ News: If You’ve Got it, Flaunt it!

May 19, 2009

Designers who have passed the NCIDQ Exam have demonstrated a minimum level of competency regarding public HSW—an attribute that should be widely leveraged by Certificate holders.

Last fall, I began studying for the LEED® Accredited Professional (AP) examination. I carried flash cards wherever I went, repeating a ritual that many do when preparing for the NCIDQ® Examination. Sitting in airports and train stations while traveling for NCIDQ, I intently studied my cards. Occasionally a stranger would inquire about my hunched, focused posture, wondering what in the world could be that interesting. Explaining LEED is easy—people “get it” right away. Why then is LEED so simple for the public to grasp and yet the mission and work of NCIDQ gets short shrift in terms of public awareness?

Sustainable building design, global warming and energy efficiency are front page news stories now, especially with a new administration in Washington, D.C., focused on creating “green-collar” jobs. Interior design is not front page news and will perhaps have even less of a presence in the media in light of our current economy.

It’s clear, however, that more and more professionals see the importance of adding the NCIDQ credential to their resume. This spring, NCIDQ saw a 25 percent increase in the number of exam takers (compared to the number of individuals taking the exam in the spring of 2008). Credentialing organizations like NCIDQ often work countercyclical to the economy; i.e., in lean times, more people have the time to study for an exam, and they want to ensure that they have every competitive advantage possible in the marketplace.

Since NCIDQ’s mission revolves around public protection, we have recently launched a new feature called QSearch on our Web site (www.ncidq.org). This is a listing of NCIDQ Certificate holders. Users of design services now have a way to see who is in the NCIDQ Certificate holder listing, ensuring that a person they may hire has the education, experience and exam qualifications that are the standards in North America.

For active Certificate holders, there is an additional benefit. Active Certificate holders can choose to be in the searchable side of QSearch which allows those users of design services to find as much contact information as the individual allows. Now the public can type in a state or even a ZIP or postal code to find an active Certificate holder in their area.

For instance, in the screen shot of my search results (see image, below), I have opted to provide certain pieces of information about myself, which the user can see by clicking on my name in the search field. Active Certificate holders simply log in to MyNCIDQ to choose which pieces of information they would like to have visible to QSearch users. I’d encourage all Certificate holders to take advantage of this opportunity to expand the reach of their NCIDQ credential.

I believe that my anticipated LEED AP credential will be of significant value, yet I continue to view my NCIDQ Certificate as bottom line assurance to the public that I am qualified to do work that, in addition to being green, protects the public’s health, life safety and welfare. For the last 35 years, NCIDQ has poured countless hours into creating the best interior design credentialing program in North America. We know it’s valid based on the results of our analysis of the profession and we are confident that the NCIDQ Examination is the gold standard in minimum competency testing for our profession. The nearly 25,000 Certificate holders are a testament to that.

Becoming a LEED AP will provide me with a valid credential to assist building owners, contractors, developers, architects and their clients in successfully negotiating the sustainable building process. While I am doing this important green work, I will also make sure I spend time educating these partners in the design community, and their clients, about the value of hiring an NCIDQ Certificate holder.

Sandra Friend is past president of NCIDQ and the principal of Interior Planning + Design in Ashland, OR. She is an NCIDQ Certificate holder and has served as chair of the Practicum Exam Committee. More information about NCIDQ is available at www.ncidq.org.

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