interior designers of canada designers d'intérieur du canada

interior design 101

what is interior design?

Interior design is more than just aesthetics, it’s about finding creative design solutions for interior environments while supporting the health, safety, and well being of occupants and enhancing their quality of life.

Following a systematic and coordinated methodology including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process, interior design is a multi-faceted profession whereby the needs and resources of the client are satisfied to create an interior space that fulfills the project goals.

Qualified through a rigorous process of education, experience and examination, IDC members are skilled at assisting clients realize their goals, creating built environments that are both functional and aesthetically attractive.

Interior Design Canada members

In addition, all IDC members are required to:

  • Participate in ongoing professional development.
  • Uphold a professional code of ethics and standards of practice.

find an interior designer

Interior designers can help you get the most out of your interior space. Good design can add value to your home, increase your businesses bottom line, draw customers into your store and promote health and well-being.

Searching online for an interior designer can be daunting.

How can you tell if the design firm you want to hire is reputable?

How do you know if the firm follows professional standards of practice?

The truth is, you don’t. We can help.

Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) – Canada’s national association for the interior design profession – has a member directory to help connect you to our professional interior design firms who specialize in residential, workplace, restaurant, retail and health care design.

become an interior designer

You may be surprised to learn that a career in interior design is about more than picking out fabrics and colours to create beautiful spaces.

Professional interior designers have distinguished themselves by demonstrating a specific set of core competencies, supported by verified work experience and education. They understand and apply current codes established to protect public health, safety and welfare. Interior designers are passionate about their profession and dedicated to its recognition and integrity.

These standards include specific education, experience, and examination requirements – better known as the “Three Es.”

Education | Experience | Examination

If you’re considering a career in interior design, start your search by visiting careersininteriordesign.com. This site provides an overview of what it takes to become an interior designer in North America, including the national standards set by Interior Designers of Canada and its nine provincial regulatory bodies.

Education

North American educational standards are set by CIDA, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. These standards address what students must learn to become professional interior designers. Programs that voluntarily meet CIDA requirements address curriculum structure, faculty, facilities and other important elements necessary in interior design learning environments.

Once enrolled in an interior design program in Canada, students are eligible to become members of IDC.

For a list of schools recognized by IDC and its nine provincial association members, click here.

Experience

Following formal education, the next phase of an interior designer’s career is supervised work experience. An internship program is required to supplement design education and help enhance development as a professional. Before settling on a particular area of expertise, internships can be effective transitions between formal education and professional practice for emerging professionals to gain a broad range of work experience in multiple design sectors.

The supervisor must be one of the following:

  • A Registered member of their provincial association
  • A licensed architect who provides interior design services
  • An NCIDQ certificate holder

If the supervisor does not meet one of the above criteria, a percentage of hours worked will still be counted towards mandatory supervised work experience. Please refer to the bottom portion of this requirements chart or to the NCIDQ chart.

Intern Membership

IDC intern members are individuals who are active intern or provisional members who are attaining interior design experience, and have not yet successfully completed the Council of Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) Examinations (NCIDQ); or can provide proof that they are an Intern/Provisional Member in a Canadian Provincial Interior Design Association, in good standing.

The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) is the recognized examination body throughout North America. The NCIDQ examinations test that an applicant has the knowledge and experience necessary to create interior spaces that are functional and safe. The NCIDQ examination consists of two multiple choice sections and a drawing practicum, all focused on health, safety and welfare. While interior designers must possess knowledge in many areas, such as accounting, human resources and aesthetics, the NCIDQ examination tests knowledge in only those areas that relate to health, safety and welfare. Click here to learn more about CIDQ exams and schedules.

Registered Membership

Successful completion of the qualifying examination is required for professional registration in all provincial interior design associations. It also provides you with access to the Title recognized by the government in that province, or in the case of Nova Scotia, full practice rights.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a fully qualified interior designer, but the reward is a fulfilling career in a profession that helps build the spaces where we live, work, and play.

Attention, students! The standards are changing for membership

In order to become an interior designer in Canada, you must meet the standards recognized by Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) and its nine provincial regulatory bodies. These standards include specific education, experience and examination requirements.

Changes to the requirements have been made in response to several factors

Amendment to the Agreement on Internal Trade put in place by Canada’s premiers in 2009, which mandated that all professional regulators provide reciprocity among the provinces and territories.

Decision by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) to require a four year bachelor’s degree as its minimum standard for accreditation.


In 2008, the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) mandated qualified work experience as a requirement to write the NCIDQ examinations.

The changes will be phased in over the next few years in order to bring Canada in line with North American industry standards. Sound daunting? Not to worry. The national standards for membership with IDC’s nine provincial regulatory bodies are outlined below.

Qualifications

Since January 2015, a four-year baccalaureate has become the minimum education requirement in Canada (except in the province of Quebec). Prospective students interested in an interior design program should consult the list of CIDA accredited degree program for more information.