NCARB Votes at Annual Meeting to Oppose the Licensing of Interior Designers

At their Annual Meeting and Conference this past week in Chicago, Illinois, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards' delegates, representing regulatory boards of all 50 states plus those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, voted their opposition to interior designer licensing laws being promulgated around the country.

NCARB's position has been taken solely with the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare in mind. Concern on this subject has been heightened by recent efforts of interior designers to make inroads into the building departments of the United States by advancing the proposition that "registered design professionals" (i.e., architects and engineers) also include interior designers, to prepare, stamp and seal, and submit drawings to local building departments. Such proposals seriously impact public safety.

The government census has identified some 200,000 persons who call themselves "interior designers." Of those individuals, apparently successfully practicing their trade, only 14,313 have availed themselves of the self-certifying test of minimal competency produced by the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications. Approximately 20,000 people are regulated in the 20 United States jurisdictions that currently certify interior designers. And many of those practitioners are architects.

In addition, considerable numbers of those regulated have not passed NCIDQ's rudimentary examination, having been "grandfathered." The fact that a preponderance (more than 85 percent) of those calling themselves interior designers in this country are successfully practicing their trade without the demonstrated need for governmental regulation is obvious.

NCARB's Member Boards overwhelmingly supported Resolution 00-1, Opposition to Interior Designer Licensing. The full text resolution reads:

"RESOLVED, inasmuch as the licensing of interior designers may not protect the health, safety and welfare of the public in the built environment, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards opposes the enactment of additional interior designer licensing laws and directs the Board of Directors (i) to monitor the licensing efforts of the interior designers, (ii) to take appropriate action to oppose such efforts, and (iii) to continue to support Member Boards of the Council with accurate information with which the Member Boards may effectively oppose such efforts."

In several workshops and open meetings leading up to the final vote, the subject was strenuously debated. It was pointed out that leaders of the interior design associations have consistently promulgated licensing as a means for their constituency to create a market for their services. NCARB points out that the purpose of governmental regulation is not to create specific markets. There must be a demonstrable need to protect the public from unqualified practitioners.

Additional information about other matters debated at the 2000 Annual Meeting may be found [here].