As frequent collaborators in the built environment, architects and interior designers sometimes encounter parallels in their professions’ skills and expertise. This correlation can lead to confusion and uncertainty on the part of the public surrounding practitioners’ roles and responsibilities. To help address this and enable more effective collaboration and regulation, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) released a joint report exploring similarities and differences between the essential knowledge, skills, and tasks required for competency in each profession.  

Read the Report

Key Findings
The professions of architecture and interior design, while similar in practice and required knowledge, are unique and distinct disciplines that both have an important role in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public within the built environment.

NCARB and CIDQ maintain similar paths in support of regulated practice, including specialized education, professional experience, and examination. The joint report compares the essential tasks required to competently practice their profession identified by recent practice analyses, as well as the objectives assessed by NCARB and CIDQ’s required examinations.

Following careful research and discussion, NCARB and CIDQ identified several areas of definite similarity between the professions, as well as areas where there is some similarity or no similarity. The report provides a summary of these similarities and differences, as well as a detailed breakdown of any commonality between each task and each assessment objective.

For example, the collective team’s analysis found that 67 of the 87 tasks in CIDQ’s Practice Analysis (77 percent) reflected definite or some similarity, and 20 of the 87 tasks (23 percent) reflected no similarity to NCARB’s tasks. Additionally, 77 of the 96 tasks in NCARB’s Practice Analysis (80 percent) reflected definite or some similarity and 19 of the 96 tasks (20 percent) reflected no similarity to CIDQ’s tasks.

Additionally, the report highlights how differences in the structure and approach toward requirements impacts the study—for example, while NCARB’s tasks are often specific, CIDQ’s tend to be broader in nature. In many instances, the two professions use similar or the same terminology, which may have different meanings or application in their respective practices. 

Background and Methodology
The report is the culmination of multiple years of effort, which began when NCARB’s FY18 President Gregory L. Erny, FAIA, NCARB, Hon. FCARM, created an Interior Architecture Work Group to compare “interior design” and “interior architecture” degree programs. In FY19, the work group expanded their efforts to include a comparison of NCARB and CIDQ’s most recent practice analyses. Following an initial review, NCARB’s subject matter experts invited CIDQ to collaborate. After each organization independently compared practice analyses and examination assessment objectives, the subject matter experts met to review and explore findings, ultimately identifying areas of definite similarity, some similarity, or no similarity.

Next Steps
As the regulation of interior design continues to evolve in the United States, a growing number of licensing boards jointly regulate both architecture and interior design. This report can be used to inform the public about these professions and licensing boards as they establish rules and requirements in their role to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare.