How does certification protect the public?

1. Virginia has voluntary certification by means of a "Title Act" which allows the  public the option to work with a "Certified Interior Designer". By doing this the public will be ensured that those using the title "Certified Interior Designer" have met minimum standard requirements for education, experience and examination.

2. Today, interior designers engage in a wide spectrum of work, ranging from residential spaces to complex public or commercial environments. Not all interior designers choose to work on projects that impact life safety or building codes, many others however concentrate on hospitals, schools, nursing homes, government, facilities and other interior environments with a direct impact on protections for the public. Like all regulated design professionals, these interior designers must have a working knowledge of complex local, state, national and international building codes, health and safety codes, and other applicable laws (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act). These interior designers provide services that range from strategic planning through to construction documentation and administration.

3. Interior designers have the greatest impact on the specification of "Interior Content"- the interior furnishings, finishes, and contents of any building. This means that interior designers have a significant impact on the fire safety of any occupied structure.

Fire statistics (1999-2002) regarding the ignition of "Interior Content":

12% of annual fires (16,950)

32% of civilian deaths (183)

20% of civilian injuries (1,198)

21% of property damage ($575 Million)

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) (Assembly Occupancies, 2009), interior finishes and furnishings in public spaces have more impact on the protection of life and property than any other issue other than the actual fire ignition source itself.

How does certification reduce barriers to business?

1. Certification for interior designers helps establish a more level business environment for interior design firms who both partner with and or compete with architectural firms. Without certification there is no guarantee that an interior designer will be able to submit plans for permit within their purview without paying for an architect to review and approve. Without certification, Certified Interior Designers would lose the right to stamp and seal drawings for permit.

2. Certified Interior Designers in Virginia have the ability to apply for reciprocity in neighboring states which have interior design regulation – including Maryland and the District of Columbia. Reciprocity and Comity creates business opportunities for Virginians to compete on projects across state borders.

3. Certified Interior Designers have the opportunity to bid on Federal projects requiring Certification, Registration, and or Licensure of interior designers.

4. Certification for interior designers gives those designers who are partnered with architectural or engineering firms the opportunity to be a part of the leadership and ownership structure of those organizations. Without certification, interior designers cannot hold voting rights in a professional corporation or hold a supervisory position within those organizations.

5. Certification for interior designers offers an expanded menu of business structure opportunities including Professional Corporations (PC) and Professional Limited Liability Corporations (PLLC). Without certification interior designers do not have access to these business structure opportunities.

Does interior design certification impact the state budget?

No. Interior design certification is self-funded by dues and fees paid by Certified Interior Designers. Dues are currently set at $45.00 per year and typically exceed all expenses related to interior design regulation.

What are the requirements to become a Certified Interior Designer in Virginia?

Applicants for interior design certification must meet minimum educational, experience and examination requirements.


Typical applicants have either a minimum 4-year professional degree from an institution accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA or equivalent accrediting organization), or a professional degree in architecture from a NAAB-approved curriculum; as well as a minimum two years monitored experience prior to passing the NCIDQ examination.

Is interior design certification exclusionary?

No. Certification for interior designers in Virginia is voluntary and does not restrict or regulate the ability to provide interior design services or anyone's ability to call themselves an "Interior Designer". What certification does do is allow those who meet certain requirements of education, experience, and examination the opportunity to choose to be held accountable to high standards of professional conduct and practice.

Can’t interior designers who wish to work in other states simply become licensed in those states?

No. States that have enacted interior design legislation have their own specific and unique requirements for registration. To require Virginia interior designers to become registered or licensed in each state that has enacted interior design legislation before they can work in that state puts them at a competitive disadvantage with designers from states that have enacted legislation with reciprocity provisions. Certification for Interior designers creates business opportunities through reciprocity and comity with these states.

What harm has ever been caused by bad design?

Sadly, unsafe design choices have a long and tragic history leading to millions in damages, severe injuries, and the loss of life. Interior Design Certification in Virginia was established in 1990 on the heels of several such fatal disasters and with the support of the American Institute for Architects (AIA). In 1989 sixteen lives were lost in nursing home fires in Norfolk and Roanoke County, Virginia in a direct causal relationship to the use of unsafe flammable and toxic materials, finishes, and furnishings in these facilities. Certification for interior designers ensures design decisions impacting the health, safety and welfare of the public are made by appropriately skilled design professionals.

A study from 1999-2002 indicated that interior content in high-risk occupancies is responsible for more than 1,400 fires, 100 civilian injuries, and 16 civilian deaths every month.

How many states have interior design legislation?

Nearly thirty of the nation's states and territories have some form of interior design legislation. Regulations vary from professional state recognition to acts that allow for signing, sealing and permitting privileges.

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