Tag Archives: NCIDQ

Conquer the NCIDQ Exams!


Have you thought about taking your career to the next level with the NCIDQ certification? Have you taken the test in the past and missed it by a few points? Did you register for the exams and don’t know where to start?

ID Conquer is here to help. Join our exclusive 12 week, in person and virtual study group. ID Conquer has taken the guess work out of preparing for all three NCIDQ exams: IDFX, IDPX and Prac 2.0. When you register for ID Conquer’s study group, you will get a detailed reading schedule, hands on exercises that reinforce the content areas in the exams, helpful tips and even practice questions. We meet weekly, Friday evenings, starting June 14th, 2019 at 5:00pm in the bkm Office Works showroom.

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Get the structure and guidance you need to pass the exams and meet fellow designers to help you along the way. This course is made for designers of all ages from entry level to industry experts. ID Conquer will prepare you for the October 2019 exams this fall.

Registration includes access to the weekly study group and either an ebook or printed binder for $300/$350 respectively. In addition to registration, you will need to get a copy of the Interior Design Reference Manual by David Kent Ballast in the 6th edition. Use discount code IDC15 to get a discount on the PPI2Pass website.

To learn more about our program, visit www.IDConquer.com. Contact Cristina Garvie at cristina@idconquer.com if you have additional questions. The study group is open to members and non-members, in person or using a video conference connection.

Spotlight on Jennifer Sun


The San Diego City Center Advocacy team recently had a wonderful conversation with our newest co-director, Jennifer Sun. While she is not new to holding a leadership position within IIDA nor to the community (she has been an integral part of the IIDA Fashion Show and a respected designer at FS Design Group for over four years), we thought it would be great to spend some time with Jennifer one-on-one to get to know more about her.

Q: What inspired you to begin a career in design?

A: Since I can remember I have always been creative and like to make things and spaces beautiful and functional.  It wasn’t till my early 30’s did I decide to go to school to make design and architecture my  career choice.

Q: What has been your greatest asset in studying for NCIDQ?

A: I have not started, but once I do, I am very excited to know that San Diego IIDA has a study group  and Christina Garvie (IIDA SOCAL Director of Professional Certifications).  Christina has been running  this group for a couple of years and has a lot of insight and knowledge of the certification process.  I  am planning on taking full advantage of this IIDA perk! 

Q: What has been your biggest challenge in studying for NCIDQ?

A: Qualifying for the test.  My education is non‐traditional for a commercial interior designer.  I have  two associate degrees: one in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising  and another in architecture from Mesa Community college.  I also have a bachelor’s degree in  economics from the University of California San Diego.  This background is considered non‐traditional, therefore NCIDQ requires an alternative review program that requires proof of 5 years of applicable  work experience, a $525 processing fee and an education and dossier review.  Short answer, lots of  additional paper work and money. Wish me luck! 

Q: What is your favorite project you have worked on? 

A: It’s difficult to choose a favorite because so many of the projects I have worked on have been  special or interesting. I have learned that even the most basic tenant improvement can present  unique challenges that must be addressed, resulting in valuable experience and knowledge.  But, if I  had to choose one, it would be Pacific Plaza at Torrey Hills.  The commercial complex was designed by  the architect Brian Paul in the late 90s.  My firm re‐imaged the lobbies, restrooms, elevators,  corridors, courtyard and gym.  I was able to work on the project from the schematic phase through  construction and completion.  It was a wonderful learning experience and the finished product was  very satisfying to all involved.

Q: What led you make the decision to take on a leadership role within IIDA? 

A: A little friendly peer pressure from some of my favorite people in the industry and the desire to  give back to the profession that has brought be so much joy.

Q: Where do you find your inspiration? 

A: In the organic forms and geometric lines that can be found in nature and science. 

Q: What is your absolute favorite thing about San Diego? 

A: The people and ocean.  I grew up in the San Fernando valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, and it was my  dream to be able to live near the water.  San Diego is quite diverse and overall a very warm  community.  There is a lot of love and compassion in this city and many people dedicated to making it  a wonderful place to live. 

Q: Who is your favorite designer or architect? 

A: My grandmother, Nancy Sun.  She is gone now but she was my inspiration to study  architecture.  She was a female architect in New York city from 1960s to the early 1990s and worked  for I. M. Pei.  You should see her hand drawn details and renderings.  Absolutely exquisite. 

Q: How would you describe your design style? 

A: I am not really sure if a have a particular “style”.  I do prefer to design with neutral colors, clean  lines and natural finishes and when appropriate adding pops of whimsy and color with furniture,  accessories and art.  

Q: What do you do to unwind after a long day? 

A: I am very into fitness, so I tend to unwind daily with a workout at the gym or a yoga class. The more  sweat the better! I also enjoy ending the day sewing and snuggling in bed with my cats with a good  book… Thanks for spending some time with us Jennifer. We are so excited to have you as co‐director of the San  Diego City Center of IIDA! 

NCIDQ FREE Informational Webinar

16493225_studygroup_500pxWe can help you take your career to the next Level!

We are proud to support our member’s career enhancement as they pursue professional licensure. We will be hosting a one hour webinar led by an NCIDQ Ambassador on November 6, 2018 at 6:00pm. If you are interested in more information about taking the NCIDQ exams, how to register, key deadlines, etc. please join us.

RSVP HERE. Call in information will be emailed.

Take the first step in elevating your career.

Cristina Garvie
Director of Professional Certifications

Spotlight on Alexandra Milkovich


Alexandra Milkovich is one of our professional members for San Diego City Center. She relocated to San Diego from Dallas earlier this year, and is excited to be a part of the San Diego interior design community. We spoke with Alexandra to get to know her and find out about why being NCIDQ certified is important to her.

With a Masters in Interior Architecture & Product Design from Kansas State University, Alexandra Milkovich has 8 years of experience in the interior design and architectural industry.  She spent the early part of her career at RTKL Dallas, where she worked on hospitality, healthcare, and commercial projects, as well as exhibit design. She has since been employed by Wilson Associates Dallas and Harwood International, also in Dallas, where she gained additional experience the aforementioned fields as well as in high-end residential and multi-family housing.

After much consideration, Alexandra and her husband decided to move to San Diego. She is currently a part of the interior design department at HBG Design, where she is focused on hospitality design. Alexandra has done extensive research in restaurant design and the culinary arts through both her masters degree and professionally, and continues that passion through not only her job, but her personal food blog where she showcases unique culinary dishes and beautiful plating designs.

Here are her answers to a few of our questions regarding her experience in becoming an NCIDQ certified professional:

Q: How long have you been NCIDQ certified?

A: 5 years

Q: Name one thing that you learned while studying for the exam that you are able to apply to your everyday work.

A: Every firm does things slightly differently, therefore I learned a lot about the typical industry standards and how I can apply those standards at each place I worked.

Q: How do you feel that being certified has helped you professionally?

A: Being a licensed interior designer not only makes you more knowledgeable in the profession, but also puts you in a higher pay range and potentially a higher position at your company.

Q: Why would you recommend certification to fellow designers?

A: I believe that once you become a Registered Interior Designer, your boss and colleagues will have a newfound level of respect for you professionally.  It shows them that you can accomplish a challenge and come out with much more knowledge in the profession than you had prior, which in turn benefits them.

Q: Did you take all of the exams at once, or did you spread them out, and why did you choose to do it the way you did?

A: I took all of my exams at once: multiple choice tests on a Friday and practicum on a Saturday.  It was a very long weekend, but I was happy to get them over within one quick swoop.

Q: Do you have any study tips for those of us who are preparing to take the exam?

A: For the multiple choice tests, I recommend to read the book once, read it again and highlight important notes, read it again and make note cards of the highlighted notes and study those note cards.  I also recommend reading any additional recommended study books/notes that the book may not cover (i.e. AIA standards).  For the practicum, I recommend practicing the test at least 2 times and timing yourself.  Also make sure you understand the different sections and what you could potentially be tested on.  I took a study course with IIDA and it was really helpful.

Q: In your opinion, what is the number one reason that an interior designer should become NCIDQ Certified?

A: Becoming a certified interior designer shows commitment and dedication to the interior design industry.

Q: Any words of encouragement?

A: I had to tell myself many times to ‘just do it’.  I know taking this test is daunting, but you need to rip it off like a band-aid, suck it up and just take it.  Don’t be discouraged by failure.  Many people do not pass the first time and no firms or fellow designers will judge you for that.

Welcome to the San Diego City Center, Alexandra! We are happy to have you as a part of our community.

Katie Toth & Denise Colestock
Co-Chairs of Advocacy, San Diego City Center

Featured Professional | Tammy Miller


Tammy Miller is an IIDA Professional Member in the San Diego region. Tammy received a BS in Design and Environmental Analysis with a concentration in Human Factors and Ergonomics at Cornell University. She did laboratory planning with Jacobs engineering for a few years and broadened her horizons taking a position in interior design at LPA Inc. in 2005. Most of her concentration has been with education work (mostly higher education facilities with some K12 as opportunities arise).
Tammy has a strong interest in Well Building and wellness programs in schools. She worked on CSUN’s Oasis Center and is currently working on a wellness Pavilion for Mount St. Mary’s University, Chalon Campus. She will be presenting at the A4LE Conference in Philadelphia this year, exploring the Well Building standards, how they apply to schools and how this new college-level focus on Wellness buildings / programs can begin to filter down to K12 schools.

What made you decide to take NCIDQ?

A. I started my certification when the NCIDQ and the CA codes tests were both required.  Of course, the CA codes test changed to IDEX after I had taken the first 2 sections of the NCIDQ.  I completed the final section a couple of years later because I thought “why not!?”  That being said, I’m pretty sure I would have taken the NCIDQ at some point anyway.  You never know where life, career, project jobs will take you.  I also believe the exam to be a much more comprehensive indicator of knowledge/aptitude for interior design.  I felt a sense of accomplishment!

How has the exam helped to shape your career?

A. I can’t say that it has other than getting comments from people impressed with both the CID and NCIDQ certifications.

What advice would you give to someone looking into taking the exam?

A. Do it!  It’s worth the effort.

Ari Coghlan, Associate IIDA
San Diego City Center Communications

Featured Professional | Angela Lafica


Angela is one of our Professional member’s for San Diego City Center. She has great involvement in the Design industry here in San Diego and with IIDA. We reached out to Angela to learn more about her and asked her a couple questions about the importance of being licensed!

“With 10 years of experience in the interior design industry, I am a Senior Associate, currently working in the San Diego office for Cuningham Group Architecture. Much of my career has been invested in the healthcare design market, but I have worked in a broad range of markets including education, hospitality and even theme parks with intention to leverage my acquired knowledge across all of them to be a more flexible and well-rounded designer. I am also co-chair for IIDA San Diego’s NeoConnect, and have found incredible value in being an involved member in our local city center’s events.”
– Angela Lafica

1. What made you decide to take NCIDQ?

When I was in school, they talked about the NCIDQ as a “matter-of-fact” issue, that everyone should take it. I never questioned whether it was something I wanted to do or not. For me, it was the bare-minimum, professionally, to let my clients and colleagues know I’m committed to my career and continuing to be educated throughout the course of it.

2. How has the exam helped to shape your career?

Passing the NCIDQ prepared me to take the IDEX (and become CID) as much of the material crossed over, and since I had made studying a habit again, I went on to take the EDAC not long after that. I believe that passing the NCIDQ gives my clients additional confidence in me and my abilities to serve them on their project.

Similarly, because I believe it was important for me to have passed the NCIDQ, I definitely look at that as one of the most important traits, if not a necessity, of a new hire, especially if they have 5+ years of experience.

Our firm has deemed passing the NCIDQ as a requirement for moving from an Interior Designer (Level) 1 to a 2.

3. What advice would you give to someone looking into taking the exam?

Unless you don’t see (Commercial) Interior Design as a long-term career path for you, I believe that taking the NCIDQ should be a priority, as it is one of the most important ways you can prove that you have the fundamental knowledge necessary for designing spaces that are safe, functional and thoughtful.

Thank you Angela for taking the time to share your thoughts with us! To learn more about becoming certified, click here!

Tanya Villalpando
IIDA San Diego Communications Co Chair

NCIDQ: Why, How, When


Why should you become NCIDQ certified?

– Certification marks your level of competency and credibility.

– Laws in about half the states in the US and in Canada may restrict you from either practicing interior design or calling yourself an “interior designer” without a license.

– Certification can translate into significantly higher earnings.

– Certification allows you to become a Professional member of IIDA and ASID.

How to start the process of becoming NCIDQ certified:

– First, ensure you meet the eligibility requirements. There are several paths to meet the requirements, as outlined on the NCIDQ website.

– Next, create an account at the MyNCIDQ website.

– After you create an account, and if you have completed your formal education, you are eligible to take the first section of the exam: the IDFX. You will need to complete the application form and have your official transcripts as well as application fee sent in to the address they provide.

– Once you have met the requirements for work experience (which depends on the path you selected above) you can apply to take the remaining sections of the exam: the IDPX and Practicum. You will need to have your current and/or past supervisors fill out the work experience verification form as well as obtain three references. All of these will also need to be sent in to CDIQ with the additional application fee.

– Finally, when you have received feedback from CIDQ that your application has been accepted, you can begin to register for exams.

When can you take the exams?

– All three sections are only offered twice per year, in April and October. For Spring 2016, registration opens on January 6th.


– As always, anyone is welcome to join the San Diego IIDA Chapter’s study group, which begins the week of January 18th and runs until the exam dates.


If you need any further information about the application process, study materials, or the study group, contact Hillarie Martorell (hmartorell@ofsbrands.com) or myself, Katie Toth (ktoth@delawie.com).

Katie Toth, Associate IIDA, LEED GA

Important Member Benefits

Must read if you are planning on taking the NCIDQ!

IIDA Associate Members in good standing are eligible to participate in the NCIDQ tuition reimbursement program. With an inaugural gift from Mannington Commercial, this Fund offers IIDA Associate Members an opportunity to apply for financial assistance upon passing all three parts of the NCIDQ exam.

Members who have taken and passed all required parts of the exam resulting in NCIDQ Certification may request consideration for reimbursement. Reimbursement amounts are contingent upon whether the Member took all three parts at one time, or sat for the three parts at three separate exam times. In the event that a Member’s firm/employer pays a portion of the cost of the exam, the IIDA Member can still apply for reimbursement for the portion he/she has paid.

For more information please visit http://www.iida.org/content.cfm/ncidq-tuition-reimbursement-fund OR email Aisha Williams awilliams@iida.org.