wikiHow to Become an Interior Designer in California

An interior designer is responsible for planning several aspects of an interior space, including aesthetics, construction elements, functionality, handicap accessibility, safety, building code conformity, blue prints, acoustics and construction methods. Interior design differs from interior decorating in that interior designers must account for so many design facets outside of the purely aesthetic. Therefore, it helps to complete a certification process in order to practice interior design. Three states have licensing requirements (Nevada, Florida and Louisiana), several other states have voluntary certification or registration requirements. California has a voluntary Title Act for becoming a Certified Interior Designer (CID) through the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC). This is a codified title in the California Business & Professions Code, Section 5800 and is a title protected by statute. These are some of the steps for how to become an interior designer in California..


  1. Image titled Become an Interior Designer in California Step 1
    Get an education. There are a number of avenues through which you can take interior design courses that will help qualify you to obtain a CID in the state of California:
    • Certificate programs. A certificate program will enable you to meet the 2-year (40 hour) minimal requirements for taking the IDEX California examination and continuing on toward California interior design certification. Many California schools offer certificate programs, while universities like the University of California Riverside (UCR) and UC Berkeley offer extension interior design courses that complete certificate program requirements.
    • Associates degrees. Many community colleges and universities offer 2 year associate of arts degrees in interior design, including the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, the San Diego Mesa College and Modesto Junior College. The Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa offers a 3 year associate of science degree in interior design.
    • Bachelors degrees. The Art Institute of California, the Interior Designers Institute and California State University all offer interior design courses for bachelor degree programs.
    • Online correspondence schools such as Rhodec International offer bachelors, associates and certificate programs that qualify you for California interior design certification.
  2. Image titled Become an Interior Designer in California Step 2
    Gain work experience. Your hands-on experience in the field of interior design must be diversified, meaning it encompasses all of the functions of a California interior design professional, and may be in the form of a job including internship time as well.
  3. Image titled Become an Interior Designer in California Step 3
    Ensure that you have the specified amount of education and/or work experience. In order to get certified as an interior designer in California, you must have a combination of both education and experience. The CCIDC gives you options for fulfilling this requirement:
    • Option 1 is to have completed a 4-year interior design bachelor program and have 2 years of experience working as an interior designer.
    • Option 2 is to have a 3 year certificate of education in interior design, plus 3 years experience in the field.
    • Option 3 is to have completed 2 years of interior design courses, and to have 4 years of work experience.
    • Option 4 is to have 8 years or more of a combination of interior design education and or work experience in interior design. It can also be all experience only.
  4. Image titled Become an Interior Designer in California Step 4
    Apply for certification with CCIDC. Once you complete the education and experience requirements, you may go to the CCIDC website and apply for certification. There is a one time application fee of $150.00. This enables you to sit for the certification examination.
  5. Image titled Become an Interior Designer in California Step 5
    Pass the IDEX California examination. This is the certification examination that results in the CID designation.
    • Register to take the IDEX California at one of the testing centers, found on the IDEX website. It can even be taken in other states, or countries.
    • Pay the examination registration fee of $300, plus the testing center fee of $75.
    • The IDEX California is a 150-question, multiple choice closed-book test taken only online at the testing centers. You will be given 3 hours to complete the test, and the test is given twice a year in the months of May and October.
    • Upon successful completion of the IDEX California, and completion of all the other requirements such as education and work experience you will be issued a CID stamp, with your personalized number on it. This is your professional California interior design designation number, to be used on all work-related documents while you practice interior design.

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Categories: Architecture and Design Occupations