2008/02b: Ask Me
Q&A 15 years ago No Comments

I graduated with an Associates degree in Interior Design from Bauder Fashion College in Arlington, Texas in 1983. I am a registered interior designer in Texas and have practiced residential design for many years. I was one of those designers that was grandfathered into TBAE and not required to take the NCIDQ exam. I am really wanting to spread my wings and get involved in the Commercial / Hospitality end of design. I know I need to take an AutoCAD class and maybe a few others. Do you have any suggestions on where to start” Should I look at returning to school or maybe find a interior designer in the area of interest to learn under. Is my degree and years of experience enough to get me back in the industry”

(submitted by Melinda S.)

(For an additional answer to this question, GO HERE.)

In the last three days, two inquiries about being an interior designer in Texas arrived in my email and two other inquiries through friends of friends.

1. One was a current student in a different state enrolled in an interior design program in a school not listed on the CIDA website. I advised her to determine what kind of degree she will receive and to call TBAE as soon as possible to determine how she would work in Texas. With her degree, she has been told that she will be equipped to work in the field of interior design beginning at an entry level. The school she is attending offers a two year AAS and a four year BFA. She needs a four year degree to apply for Texas interior design registration.

I advised her to print the pages pertaining to the requirements for becoming an interior designer in Texas. Read each line and paragraph carefully and highlight the actions required to meet the requirements. Print all the forms that will have to be filled out at the beginning and especially the Verification of Employment Experience form that will have to be submitted at the end of the two years of experience gained under a registered interior designer or architect. It is important to verify that the registration of the person under whom a graduate would work to fulfill the Experience requirement is current. The fact is, if she does not graduate from a CIDA accredited program, she will not be able to sit for the NCIDQ in Texas. Other states may have different requirements and, therefore, the people who are advising her may know that her degree will be adequate in that jurisdiction.

Another inquiry came from a grandfathered registered interior designer in Texas with an Associates Degree who wanted to change her focus to commercial/hospitality work. This is a little bit more difficult to answer.

The first phone call should be to TBAE to determine how they see it and what they advise. From our experience of teaching the ASID Dallas NCIDQ Study Group, Helen Erdman and I have learned that this is the critical path to follow. Obviously, the education and the experience met the requirements at the time when grandfathering was allowed. If this person wants to return to an accredited interior design program for additional studies, then the decision about whether or not to go for the four year degree will have to be made. Only Jackie Blackmore at TBAE can determine what can be applied to her new degree from her previous degree.

It is possible to study and sit for the NCIDQ if you hold Texas registration and have an interior design degree. I had opened my NCIDQ file at TBAE about eight years before I was able to sit for the test by paying a fee to re-open my file. That option may not be available now, but check it out if you think you previously started a file.

I cannot stress strongly enough that the Body of Knowledge that an Interior Designer should know changes frequently because of new information available on a daily basis. A degree earned several years ago might have been based on a different Body of Knowledge and fulfilling the TBAE – CEPH requirement and ASID – CEU requirement will help keep us up to date. The NCIDQ focuses on space planning based on Egress and Accessibility as well as Professional Practices intertwined with Contract Documents. The test is structured from the commercial viewpoint of our Body of Knowledge (available for viewing at www.NCIDQ.org).

Another one is not a registered interior designer but has been decorating homes for many years. This person may call herself an interior decorator or consultant, just not an interior designer because Texas has a title act regulating the use of the title Interior Designer. The public is better able to choose the person with the skill set that matches their need if they understand the difference between interior designer and interior decorator.

The last one I learned about is looking for a mid-life career change and would like to know the avenue for becoming an interior designer. This woman is not interior designer but is researching whether or not this point in life, she should become one.

The rule of achieving a four year degree from a CIDA accredited interior design program followed by two years of experience under a registered interior designer or architect applies. After that documentation is received at TBAE, and then TBAE will apply to the NCIDQ for the person. It is not possible to apply directly to NCIDQ in Texas. TBAE is the gatekeeper. They open and manage the files for every registrant. TBAE is responsible for administering the laws regarding interior designers in Texas. (They do not keep a record of a designers CEPH’s. Do not confuse that function with NCIDQ record keeping of CEU’s.)

A recent graduate may sit for the NCIDQ after 6 months of work experience, pass the NCIDQ and continue working to complete the rest of the two year experience requirement. Upon completion of the required experience, notification of exam passage from NCIDQ and payment of any fees, TBAE will begin the registration process. They do not automatically do it. You must call or email them again. Keep a dated and timed log noting with whom you spoke and what was discussed, what actions you will take and what actions TBAE will take.

Basically, it all has to start with a phone call to TBAE. If that phone consultation is not done, then the rest of the schooling, money spent, study time, interning is worthless. If a person cannot ultimately sit for the NCIDQ under the present rules, then they may perform their functions as an interior decorator or design consultant only, since Texas is a Title Act state.

The better way to serve clients is to be well versed in Life Safety and Barrier Free knowledge as the basis of all design planning.

I hope that this helps clarify the path to achieving RID or ASID after your name. There is nothing that Helen and I like better than cheering for a person who has just received their letter from NCIDQ telling them that they passed.