What States Require an Interior Design License?

Woman with designer choosing furniture material

Understanding Interior Design Licensing

In most states, you don’t need a license to work as a residential interior designer. However, it’s important to note that the licensing requirements can vary significantly by state.

Some states may have licensing requirements for certain aspects of interior design, such as commercial spaces or aspects related to building codes, while others may not have any licensing requirements.

In states with no licensing requirements for residential interior design, individuals can typically work in this field without obtaining a specific interior design license. However, it’s essential to comply with local regulations, building codes, and zoning laws that may apply to residential projects.

Even in states without mandatory licensing for residential interior designers, obtaining professional certification through organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) or the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) can still be valuable for demonstrating expertise and credibility in the field.

Having formal education and relevant experience can also contribute to a successful career as a residential interior designer.

If you’re ready to invest in your home and want to work with a company that pays attention to details and provides excellent customer service, schedule a discovery call.

Key Takeaways

  • Licensing protect consumers and sets basic standards


  • Licensing is not a guarantee of best results, that also requires experience and talent. 


  • Not all states require licensing and even those that do it depends on the services the designer is providing. 

The Purpose of Interior Design Licensing

Interior design licensing protects consumers from unqualified practitioners and prevents potential harm. When engaging the services of a licensed interior designer, clients can have confidence that their projects will be executed with expertise and adherence to relevant codes and regulations. Licensing also helps to distinguish professional interior designers from individuals who may offer design services without the necessary education or experience.

The Process of Getting an Interior Design License

The path to acquiring an interior design license varies by state but generally involves meeting certain criteria. These typically include completing a formal education program in interior design or a related field, gaining relevant work experience, and passing a licensing examination. Some states may also require applicants to submit a portfolio of their work for review. It is important for aspiring interior designers to thoroughly research the specific requirements of their state to ensure compliance.


Once an individual has met the necessary requirements, they can obtain an interior design license. This often involves applying to the appropriate licensing board or agency and any required documentation and fees. The board will then review the application, assessing the applicant’s qualifications and determining whether they meet the necessary standards.


After the application has been approved, the individual may be required to take an examination to test their knowledge and competency in interior design. This examination assesses the applicant’s understanding of relevant codes, regulations, and design principles. It may consist of written and practical components, ensuring that the individual is well-rounded in their knowledge and skills.


Once the examination has been completed, the individual will be issued an interior design license. This license officially recognizes their qualifications and allows them to practice interior design legally within their state. Licensed interior designers need to renew their licenses periodically, as failure to do so may result in losing their ability to practice.


Overall, obtaining an interior design license is rigorous and thorough, ensuring that only qualified individuals can provide design services to the public. By adhering to licensing requirements, interior designers can demonstrate their commitment to professionalism and the well-being of their clients.

Related Post: Interior Architecture vs Interior Design

Both skillsets are important on larger projects like a whole home remodel. 

Read More

The Importance of Interior Design Licensing

Interior design licensing plays a vital role in upholding industry standards and ensuring the safety and well-being of clients. Let’s examine the key reasons why licensing is important.

Interior design is a multifaceted profession beyond choosing colors and furniture. Licensed interior designers have undergone extensive training covering aesthetics and technical aspects such as space planning, building codes, and environmental sustainability. This comprehensive knowledge allows licensed professionals to create spaces that are not only visually appealing but also functional and safe for occupants.

Ensuring Quality and Safety

Licensed interior designers have undergone rigorous training and education, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to create functional and safe spaces. Licensed professionals are well-versed in building codes, fire regulations, accessibility standards, and other crucial factors contributing to occupants’ safety and well-being.

Moreover, licensed interior designers stay updated on industry trends and innovations through continuing education requirements. This ongoing learning ensures they remain at the forefront of design advancements, allowing them to incorporate the latest technologies and materials into their projects to enhance aesthetics and functionality.

Upholding Industry Standards

Interior design licensing helps to maintain industry-wide standards by setting a benchmark for the qualifications and competency of professionals. Interior designers adhere to licensing requirements and demonstrate their commitment to ethical and professional conduct. This benefits clients and the industry, promoting fair competition and fostering trust in services.

Furthermore, licensed interior designers often collaborate with other professionals, such as architects, engineers, and contractors, to ensure that projects are executed seamlessly and according to regulations. This interdisciplinary approach not only enhances the quality of the final design but also streamlines the construction process, saving time and resources for all parties involved.

States with Mandatory Interior Design Licensing

California, Florida, Nevada, and Louisiana require interior design licensing. These states have implemented regulations that define the scope of practice for interior designers and outline the specific criteria for obtaining a license.

California, for instance, is known for its stringent requirements, which include a combination of education, experience, and examination. Prospective interior designers in California must complete a minimum level of education, gain practical experience under a licensed professional, and pass the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC) exam to become licensed.

Each state has its own unique set of requirements for interior design licensing. Similar licensing processes and examinations exist in other states, ensuring qualified professionals can meet their respective jurisdictions’ specific needs and regulations.

Florida, another state with mandatory licensing, follows a similar pattern by requiring interior designers to meet specific educational criteria, gain practical experience, and pass the NCIDQ exam. By adhering to these rigorous standards, interior designers in Florida can demonstrate their expertise and commitment to professional excellence.

States with Voluntary Interior Design Licensing

While some states require interior design licensing, others have opted to offer voluntary licensing for professionals in the field. Although voluntary, obtaining a license in these states can still benefit practitioners.

For interior designers looking to elevate their careers and stand out in a competitive industry, voluntary licensing can be a strategic move. It demonstrates a commitment to professionalism and high standards and showcases a willingness to go above and beyond basic requirements.

Benefits of Voluntary Licensing

Voluntary licensing provides recognition and credibility to interior designers who choose to pursue it. It allows professionals to distinguish themselves from individuals who may not have the same level of training or expertise. Additionally, voluntary licensing can open doors to networking opportunities, specialized training, and access to resources that enhance professional development.

By participating in voluntary licensing programs, interior designers can stay updated on the industry’s latest trends, technologies, and best practices. This continuous learning process benefits the individual designer and contributes to the profession’s advancement.

States Offering Voluntary Licensing

States such as New York, Texas, and Michigan offer voluntary interior design licensing. While not mandatory, obtaining a license in these states can enhance professional credibility and provide added assurance to clients.

Furthermore, voluntary licensing can help foster a sense of community among interior designers within these states. It creates a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and mutual support, ultimately strengthening the industry’s reputation and promoting excellence in design practice.

Want Some Inspiration In Your Inbox? 

The Consequences of Practicing Without a License

Practicing interior design without a license where one is required can have significant legal and professional consequences. Let’s explore the implications of operating without the necessary credentials.

House model gavel and law books

Legal Implications

In states where interior design licensure is mandatory, practicing without a license is illegal and may result in fines, penalties, or legal action. If disputes arise, clients who engage unlicensed designers may face challenges in pursuing legal remedies.

Moreover, the legal repercussions of practicing without a license extend beyond financial penalties. In some cases, individuals operating without the required credentials may be issued cease and desist orders, which can severely impact their ability to continue offering design services. This can lead to a tarnished professional reputation and potential difficulties rebuilding trust within the industry.

Professional Repercussions

Operating without a license can damage one’s professional reputation and credibility. Clients may be hesitant to hire unlicensed designers due to concerns about qualifications, accountability, and adherence to industry standards. Additionally, unlicensed practitioners may face limited opportunities for advancement and may be excluded from participation in certain projects.

Furthermore, the lack of a license can hinder an interior designer’s ability to secure professional liability insurance, a crucial safeguard for errors or omissions in their work. Without this protection, designers may be personally liable for any damages or legal claims that arise from their projects, putting their financial well-being at risk.


Interior design licensing requirements vary from state to state, with some states mandating licensing and others offering voluntary options.

Regardless of the specific regulations in a given state, licensing protects consumers, maintains industry standards, and promotes the professionalism of interior design.

Aspiring interior designers must research and comply with the requirements of their respective jurisdictions to ensure a successful and ethical practice.

Ready to transform your space with confidence? Schedule a Discovery Call with us at McManus Kitchen and Bath, Tallahassee’s only licensed remodeling contractor with an in-house design team and showroom.

We take care of everything from start to finish, providing a stress-free remodeling experience. Learn about our consult process, fees, and how we can make your dream space a reality.

With our full-service, streamlined approach, you’ll have one point of contact and showroom to simplify the process. Contact us today to begin your redesign journey.

Estimate from a Remodeling Contractor

Schedule A Design and Budget Consult

  • Clarify Your Design Ideas with 3D Renderings
  • Detailed Estimate of Materials and Labor
  • Explore material and fixture options in our showroom