Interior Design Protection Consulting

October 26, 2010

Student speaks out against NCIDQ, interior design licensing

Student Exposes Truth About NCIDQ Exam and Licensing

This is probably the best post we’ve ever received.  It just came in as a reply to an article I posted ( couple of years ago, but I can’t take the chance of it getting buried — EVERYONE needs to read this, especially the ASID/NCIDQ/CIDA Cartel.  It proves EXACTLY what we’ve been saying!:

“You’re 100% right – there are not enough experienced designers out there who are giving the newbies a chance to “sit” and those that do give this opportunity, are usually cruel and unjust, not to mention they rarely follow the apprenticeship guidelines. (uuhhh, like give us the chance to get our feet wet by letting us do the tough stuff).

As for the NCIDQ exam – talk about raping someone of money! OMG. I think I’ve spent a total of $2,000 at this point. The questions they ask require so much analysis it’s no wonder 50% fail it multiple times. I keep running out of time analyzing them. Because the reality is – Not every interior design firm operates EXACTLY how the NCIDQ council “claims” is the “official” way of the entire industry. For instance, I “sat” under Architects, and their system was fairly different than the NCIDQ’s. So I had to buy all kinds of books and reprogram myself, but when I would read a question on the test, there were moments when I would have to recall my real life experience and compare it to the NCIDQ books. WHOOPS. Times up! You fail! Example: What’s considered a part of the “Schematic Design” phase is often times very subjective.

And what’s up with the NCIDQ judges who judge Part 3? They probably have to fail half the people b/c this is how they make their money. Designing what normally would take at least a week, in three hours? SO lame. Even more lame was how they threw in a huge ADA factor – my client was in a wheelchair and he wanted a classroom designed for photography students which had to include a darkroom and this was directly adjacent to the office space we had to design. What the heck? Honestly, most of my studying for the test was on what system to use so that I could finish it on time. I hate the NCIDQ council AND their ridiculous exam. It needs to die! I spent over $60,000 to get a BFA in ID, spent over two years working 60 hours a week for $30,000 a year for architects who lorded over me b/c they didn’t take interior designers seriously, had to move back to my parents to pay my school loans, then got laid off b/c of the sucky economy right before taking the exam, only to fail it. Ironic that I failed too considering I gave the Architects I worked for a run for their money. I know I’m skilled. I LOVE interior design with a heartfelt passion. Yet honestly, I have no choice but to give up at this point. There are no jobs and if there are jobs, it’s almost impossible to find them. And if one does find one, the job probably requires the 3d software they DIDN’T learn in college not the one they DID learn. Speaking of which, there is always a new version of the software coming out and I can’t afford  it and I’m not into stealing copies. So, I think the decade I’ve invested into the field of interior design has been enough. Sadly my college, although one of the best, operated much like the NCIDQ council and they have been no help to me. Really, really sucks. Goodbye Interior Design. Hello – reception job? Oh it gets better. Now people won’t hire me b/c they think all I can do is interior design and they don’t really understand what the field is about. Even after I explain  all the transferable skills there are between project management and office administration. It’s just SO sad. All of it.

This includes you Harrington College of Design. What a bunch of liars. Money hungry thieves who get 22 year old kids to the point where they are so broke (b/c they have no time by jr./sr. year to even think about a job but are most likely slaving away at their full time internship for free) that they have to take out personal loans with 15+% interest rates! Little do they know that when they graduate, they are screwed. Not exactly easy to pay off and get ahead when it’s hard to even get paid $25,000 a year as an entry level designer.

Sorry, but someone had to say it.

Signed. . . “Frustrated”


  1. From my humble student perspective, “designing” doesn’t necessarily require formal education. And it certainly doesn’t require a certified Bachelor’s degree and all the other regulatory nonsense. All you need is artistic inclination, exposure to good design, and info you can learn in less than a year’s time working at an actual firm (apprenticeship?). Drowning in debt for a useless Bachelors degree for a stagnant career field was a dumb decision. If design laws are passed in my state, you can bet that only a few students from my program are going to make it very far out in the field, giving all the existing, big, nepotistic, design/arch firms a virtual monopoly on the market.

    I only have one year left, but I’m switching my major to something more applicable and more worth my time. The design program at my school is second-rate to begin with, but after all the CIDA accreditation hoopla, it’s been nonstop restructuring of classes, confusion, and political hoop-jumping.

    Regulation of design is truly an oxymoron. Think of how many creative, inventive design solutions are lost because of all the money, time, and energy drained away by the ASID/NCIDQ/CIDA bureaucracy.

    Comment by Kevin — April 18, 2011 @ 9:48 pm |Reply

  2. I am right there with you, “Frustrated.” Your story is so similar to my own, it’s uncanny. I am also a Harrington grad who has been diverted from the NCIDQ path by the crappy economy. When I graduated 5 years ago, no design firms would hire me for lack of experience, and the only places that wanted me were furniture stores. Ironically, I had gone back to design school to get out of working in retail! And I’m not even all that good at sales.

    Now 5 years after design school all I have is 5 years’ inexperience and a mountain of debt. I’d say we’ve paid our dues and earned the right to call ourselves interior designers, in spite of whatever nonsense ASID spouts about the health and safety of the public being jeopardized by unlicensed interior designers.

    Of course education and training are important, but the requirements they have put in place are excessive. We should either be required to have degrees or work experience to call ourselves by the title of our profession, not both. I am glad that sites like this exist, and that there are organizations that are fighting against this unnecessary legislation. As for me, I’ve decided to call myself an interiorista and work for myself.

    Comment by tjgholar — June 20, 2011 @ 1:10 pm |Reply

  3. Thank you for sharing this post. I just interviewed at a residential desin firm for a “design assistant” job thinking this would be perfect since I am qualified. It turns out the job is 40% CADD which I know but not the latest version as you describe. So of course the interviewer said he’d hold my resume for unpaid intermships that might come up.

    Comment by Disappointed — February 25, 2012 @ 12:36 pm |Reply

  4. My daughter graduated from Stephen F. Austin State in TX earning a BS in ID with honors and leaving with a mountain of debt. We have been sending out resumes since February and she graduated in May. IF you can get a response from the design or architectural firms they tell you they aren’t hiring and “GOOD LUCK!”. I’m sure what they were really saying is, “GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!”. The arrogance of the few she has interviewed with has been a real shocker. At 58 I am saying I have NEVER seen the like of it and I was in the workforce for 39 years! How ’bout the architect/owner of an actual firm who forgot he had an interview with her and opened the locked doors (right after lunch) in bare feet and a jogging suit?? So professional. He gave her a whole 15 minutes of his precious time telling her they “abused” the interns with a laugh. A real JERK. He told her they might call by 2 weeks and, if not, to call them. Not happening. I won’t even go into the fiasco cooked up for her by a designer in Houston and a guy who owned a lighting showroom. The amount she was to get paid was a moving target and in the end was to be $12.50/hr. At that point I asked her why she went to college if she was willing to take such pathetic pay! It’s ridiculous and I will help her find her way without adding another heaping helping of debt to the pile. Hang the license! My neighbor started a business as a home organizer and ended up decorating and staging in Houston, TX. She has a backlog of work and a new Cadillac SUV.

    Comment by S Searcy — May 26, 2013 @ 7:53 pm |Reply

  5. Hello Frustrated, I am Also Frustrated. I stumbled upon your blog feeling the same like how you feel on your journey with the industry and it’s 2016! there are probably many of us with similar stories and it just makes me cry how this industry goes. Make’s me feel alone because there’s really no passionate helping hand, unless we create one? just an idea… I almost gave up, but still hanging in there. I guess I’m a bit fortunate because I am in San Francisco, so I’m able to pick up some experiences to continue to work on my eligibility for NCIDQ… I completely understand the pain. But I remind myself, I have gone this far… don’t give up now.

    Comment by Also Frustrated — August 30, 2016 @ 1:00 pm |Reply

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