2008/04: Ask Me
Q&A 12 years ago No Comments

I have a four-year degree in Interior Design and am currently working in a Bath & Kitchen Showroom. I find that I have two certification processes confronting me: NCIDQ and National Kitchen and Bath Association [NKBA] certification. The costs and time commitments for each are considerable. Can you offer me insight into the benefits of each beyond what I see on the web sites” In other words, the value of the two certifications in the business. Do designers often obtain both or is the choice usually one vs. the other” If it is the later choice, what drives that choice”


(submitted by Constance B.)

The question posed is a comparison of apples to oranges as I see it. The decision to take one certification exam over the other should be based upon your career path of choice. There are some who have opted to take both, and I would encourage this. It is timely and expensive to take both certification exams but in the end, it is a definite plus.

Certification will always give you an edge over the non-certified competition and mark you as a professional in your field. I think the question that you need to ask yourself is where you feel the most passion for the profession. If you opt for a career in the kitchen and bath field then by all means take the CKD or CBD certification exam. This exam requires seven years minimum experience in the field, which includes design, construction and management. You must have a clear understanding of mechanical, plumbing, electrical and structural systems, code requirements and cabinetry construction at a minimum.

This may seem very dry to a “right brained” and creative individual but there is more to it than just plugging in cabinetry with the “auto fill” button. There are other elements that go into these spaces, such as backsplash details, lighting, cabinetry, appliances, countertops, flooring, wall surfaces etc. The difference between an “interior designer” and a CKD or CBD becomes the focus of the particular area of the home where you wish to specialize. You may not care for the fabric selection process or window covering, carpet specification process and have more of a “technical bent” which would lead you to specialize in the two most used rooms in the home, the kitchen and bathroom.

In order to be a successful CKD or CBD, you must be a very detailed, analytical, precise and methodical individual. If you measure a space, order cabinets and they don’t fit when they arrive at the jobsite, you have not only bought yourself some cabinetry but have learned a very expensive (but valuable) lesson. Ironically, these same characteristics are also required to be a very successful interior designer.

Some designers may start out in interior design but switch to kitchen and bath design after several years in the field. Starting out as an interior designer gives you a more rounded approach to the overall picture or scope of a home and how it will relate to kitchen and bath design. Clients always desire a well thought out plan for their homes and want to feel that each room is an extension of the whole. By having some interior design experience, clients may wish to hire you for other areas of the home outside of the kitchen and bath.

To say that there is an advantage of NCIDQ certification over the NKBA certification or vice versa is not the question. Again, it will come down to your career choice and where you best see your level of skills and expertise and once again, your passion for your profession.

This is not the answer you were probably hoping for but I would strongly encourage you to take the NCIDQ exam, and if you wish to follow a career in the kitchen and bath field, follow up with certification from NKBA.

In any profession, the more knowledge and certification that you hold will only set you apart from your peers and allow you to go further in whichever direction you finally embark upon.