When an individual hires me to design a space, I like to think I am adding value to the project and that the client will feel the investment (certainly as demonstrated by paying for my services) will be worthwhile. Similarly, the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) wants its active Certificate holders and member boards to feel they are getting value for their investment of time and money. Perhaps it's because I am a former president of NCIDQ, but Certificate holders do not hesitate to tell me what is on their minds. Here are some of the questions and comments I have received over the past several years as well as summations of my responses to those inquiries.Why doesn't NCIDQ's study guide tell me how to pass the test? NCIDQ's number one mission is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and that is done by testing professionals for minimum competency in interior design. Minimum competency is a term widely used in certification circles. This means that when a consumer hires an interior designer who has passed the NCIDQ Examination, he or she can expect that interior designer to have enough knowledge to design a space that will not cause harm to the public; essentially the consumer is assured that, at minimum, the individual is competent in interior design. If the study guide provided an explanation as to how individuals could pass the test, then we would be violating the public's trust. The study guide includes a few sample questions to give test-takers an idea of the structure and methodology of the NCIDQ Examination but it does not give in-depth information on the content of the test. However, the study guide does include a sample practicum exam (section three) and a proposed solution. Why can't I take the NCIDQ Examination right after I graduate from school—while the information is fresh in my head? Why do I have to wait a few years? NCIDQ's Examination tests applied knowledge. Rather than testing information you may have memorized for academic classes, we discern if you know how to apply knowledge gained through education and experience. As required by certification standards to protect the public, a professional certification examination is the "third leg" of a three-step process: education plus experience plus examination. If I work in the interior design field before I go back to school to formally study interior design, can I apply that work experience toward NCIDQ's experience requirement?
NCIDQ requires a path that begins with education, proceeds to work experience and culminates with the NCIDQ Examination. A formal education provides the basis for knowledge, while experience provides the opportunity to apply that education. While some work experience before graduation can apply to the exam eligibility requirement, that amount of experience is limited and cannot be allowed before the education requirement has been fulfilled (see NCIDQ's eligibility requirements at www.ncidq.org).Once I pass the exam, why can't I take it again—just to keep up on the content?
Allowing people who have already passed the NCIDQ Examination to retake it goes against NCIDQ's mission of protecting the public. It is not proper protocol for certification organizations to permit re-testing.What does NCIDQ believe is the best way to prepare for the NCIDQ Examination?NCIDQ believes that one should first have the required combination of education and experience. The Council believes that participating in the Interior Design Experience Program (IDEP) is an excellent way to get a sufficient amount of quality experience. Additionally, studying and reading a variety of books on the NCIDQ Exam-ination bibliography list is also recommended. Lastly, taking at least one practice design problem (PDP) prior to the examination truly gives a candidate a feel for the actual test. PDPs are actual examinations that have been previously administered and are an excellent way to get a sense of the content, timing and requirements of the actual examination. Once I pass the NCIDQ Examination, aren't I a member of NCIDQ? No. Unlike the professional associations (Interior Designers of Canada, International Interior Design Association and American Society of Interior Designers), NCIDQ does not have individuals as members. NCIDQ's members are the U.S. regulatory boards and Canadian provincial associations that enforce interior design statutes. Currently there are 21 member boards. Each member jurisdiction appoints one delegate to NCIDQ's Council of Delegates. These delegates act as liaisons between the member jurisdiction and NCIDQ and are given the power to vote at NCIDQ's annual Council of Delegates meeting. Why do I have to pay a yearly Certificate renewal fee?The Certificate renewal fee keeps your NCIDQ Certificate active. Active Certificate holders enjoy unlimited verifications of their record to any jurisdiction in support of an application for licensure—so that the NCIDQ credential ensures mobility in today's marketplace. Active Certificate holders may access the NCIDQ database to update their contact information and view and print continuing education unit (CEU) transcripts. In addition, active Certificate holders receive QLetter, NCIDQ's newsletter, and may purchase continuing education monographs at a discounted price. I passed the NCIDQ Examination and feel very proud about my achievement. Is there a way I can get involved with the organization and give back as a volunteer?
NCIDQ has a variety of committees and task forces each year. Our volunteers are an amazing, dedicated group of professionals and we could never accomplish all we do without them. If you are interested in getting involved and are a current NCIDQ Certificate holder, go to www.ncidq.org. There are no guarantees of an opening that will suit your skills and talents, but if we know you are interested in getting involved then you will have a better chance of becoming an NCIDQ volunteer.
Just as I add value to my clients by being an informed, knowledgeable professional, NCIDQ adds value by maintaining a rigorous examination process and keeping accurate records, including the continuing education registry for transferal to regulatory boards. NCIDQ stays current with the knowledge, skills and abilities of the interior design profession by routinely conducting a timely practice analysis and supports licensure through research, documentation and creation of model language. All this is done in the name of protecting the public health, life safety and welfare, and to add value for member boards and Certificate holders.
For more information on NCIDQ, including how to participate in the IDEP, how to order an examination study guide or a PDP, visit www.ncidq.org. IDEP participants can receive discounts on the NCIDQ Examination when they complete the program.
Janice Roberts Young is a former president of NCIDQ and a licensed interior designer in Florida and Georgia. She is an NCIDQ Certificate holder and is the principal of Janice Young & Associates in Jacksonville, FL, which specializes in commercial and transportation facilities.