By Maggie Sosna, ASID
I tend to consider myself a factual person, I live by the rules, do things by the book and appreciate procedure and consistency. When I decided to become an Interior Designer, I researched for years prior to committing to my plan of action. There are some major differences in the paths you can take in this industry that could lead to completely different outcomes.
Interior Design is the art and science of understanding people’s behaviors to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning a space with fashionable or beautiful things.
Interior Decorator: An interior decorator holds no formal training (education, certification, etc.) and can legally only practice residential design. In the State of Florida, they only need an occupational license to practice as an “Interior Decorator”. They typically don’t become involved with the design of the building or the interior layout and is only concerned with the visual impression of the space (paint color, draperies, bedding, art/accessories, etc.).
Interior Designer: In the state of Florida, you used to only be able to call yourself an “Interior Designer” if you were licensed. When this law was revoked a few years ago, it allowed individuals without a state license to utilize this title. The state still requires an occupational license to practice but they are restricted only to residential design. One who refers to themselves as an “Interior Designer” can be either formally trained and chose not to take the step to become licensed OR they have no formal training.
Licensed or Registered Interior Designer: To become a “Licensed or Registered Interior Designer” there is a very extensive path that one must follow.
First, you must obtain one of the following:
CIDA Degree: Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from a CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation) interior design program and 3,520 hours of work experience after all education is completed.
Interior Design Degree – Non-CIDA: Bachelor’s degree (minimum) in a Non-CIDA interior design program and 3,520 hours of work experience after all education is completed.
Other Degree + Interior Design Degree: Bachelor’s degree (minimum) in an other major and no less than 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits of interior design course work that culminates in a certificate, degree or diploma. In addition: 3,520 hours of qualified interior design experience.
Once you have completed one of the three paths above, you then qualify to apply for the NCIDQ Examination (National Council for Interior Design Qualification). Per the NCIDQ, this examination help CIDA “protect public health, safety and welfare by identifying interior designers who have the knowledge and experience to create interior spaces that are not just aesthetically pleasing but also functional and safe.”
When an individual passes the NCIDQ, they are able to apply for a state license (if their state issues liscensing for the design field) and call themselves a Registered or Licensed Interior Designer and practice residential or commercial interior design. These designers are then required to to complete 20 credit hours of Continuing Education Units each year in order to maintain their licensed status. At Collins & DuPont our team is comprised of many talented individuals in various stages of their design careers, from student interns through liscensed designers and everywhere in between.
If you are interested in more information regarding the different option described above, please see the list of resources below.
What are the requirements of Florida Interior Design Licensure?
Definition of Interior Design