Designer Qualifications

Grandfathered, Allied & Certified

You’re ready to make over a major room. You want to go from 80’s mauve to today’s sleek contemporary. But you also want to expand it to twice its size. So, who do you call–A decorator? interior designer? building contractor? architect? It’s so confusing!

After reviewing all the industry professionals, you decide to hire an interior designer because they’re qualified to handle it all. Right? The answer is ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’.

Heading over to the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) for your local chapter is a good place to start. All design industry professionals who have decided to join their membership will be listed.

ASID’s membership is open to Industry Partners, Allied Members and qualified Interior Designers.


All fields related to the construction and beautification of commercial or residential structures, such as flooring, tiling, cabinetry, etc., carry this designation.


The public knows these members as interior designers but will see the designation Allied Member, not just ASID after their name.

That’s because they haven’t taken the NCIDQ Exam, a rigorous 2-day exam which when passed serves to identify to the public those designers who have met the professional standards of practice and competency in safe-guarding the public.

NCIDQ could be compared to passing the bar exam for lawyers.

Their membership acceptance into ASID is attributed to their years of experience in the field, often paired with a community college certificate, and after a review of their body of work.


These designers can be broken down into two member categories: The Grandfathered-in and the NCIDQ Certified.

Like Allied Members, the Grandfathered-in have not passed the NCIDQ Exam, but have taken just the Code section of the exam.

Which leaves us with those ASID members who hold the illustrious NCIDQ Certification. These interior designers encompass a vast knowledge base going far beyond color, fabric, balance, scale, spacial relationships, blueprints, code and building permits.

The NCIDQ Certificate meets the interior design profession’s legal and regulatory standards established by 29 U.S. states and Canadian provinces as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. However, in most of these states and provinces the practice of interior design is unregulated. That means your greatest assurance of high qualifications is the NCIDQ Certificate.

Lesson: Always ask what, if any, license, registration, designation and certification your designer possesses to properly handle the scope of your project.

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