Interior Design Legislation Status 2023
What does it mean to advocate for our profession?
To advocate for interior design means to support, champion, and commend the profession to people, organizations, and legislators. It also means knowing how to communicate what interior designers do to various stakeholders. Public perception influences our practice in many ways, including our legal standing as a professional at both the state and national levels. It also determines access to resources and salaries, and it influences the way we are treated by both clients and colleagues.
As commercial interior designers, we have the opportunity to advocate for legal recognition so that we may expect more from our careers in terms of control, growth, and project ownership. By participating in direct action and learning how to successfully talk to our legislators about interior design, we can engage with current best practices to promote the industry for both our benefit and that of the public.
What is registration and why does it matter?
After a state legislature passes a law that creates a title of “registered interior designer” (RID), only those who have submitted the necessary education, experience, and examination to the state can call themselves a “RID.” Sometimes these laws also allow RIDs to stamp and seal drawings for permits and/or bid on state projects. In some states, registration is used interchangeably with certification.
Registration ensures public protection because it shows consumers and clients that we have met the minimum standards to call ourselves a RID. Clients can be assured we have the education, examination, and experience necessary to be a professional interior designer. Additionally, registration laws give consumers a venue for the redress of grievances and complaints against RIDs.
Numbers don’t lie. If we want to enhance our state’s interior design legislation, high numbers of RIDs show legislators that registration matters to the profession. Registration shows that interior designers are professionals on par with architects, landscape architects, and engineers for their specific area of expertise.
What are the various types of interior design registration?
There are three types of interior design registration:
Title Act: Protects a certain title such as “Registered Interior Designer” or “Certified Interior Designer” but does not define interior design practice and does not allow for stamp and seal privileges of interior construction documents.
Practice Act: Legally defines the scope and practice of RIDs or CIDs, protects a certain title such as RID or CID, outlines registration requirements for interior designers, and establishes penalties for violations.
Stamp & Seal Privileges: In conjunction with a Practice Act, this allows RIDs the additional ability to sign and seal commercial, code-impacted work in order to be submitted for a construction permit. This type of legislation allows RIDs to perform commercial work independently of an architect, if they so choose, and obtain permits for their own work.
What type of registration do Registered Interior Designers (RIDs) operate under in Alabama and what are the benefits of becoming a RID?
In 1982, Alabama was the first state to pass a Title Act for the registration of interior designers!
The legislation was later revised, and in April 2010, Governor Riley signed HB440, the Practice Act that RIDs in Alabama operate under today. It established the Alabama Board for Registered Interior Designers and continued to protect the title “Registered Interior Designer”. It also defined the scope of practice for RIDs while adding the ability to stamp construction drawings for permitting under certain conditions. As of 2023, Alabama is only one of three states that has legislation that includes commercial permitting privileges.
Registered Interior Designers are able to seal and submit construction documents for commercial interior projects of less than 5,000 contiguous square feet within a building of any size which has a total area of 2,500 square feet or more - as long as it is not a school, church, auditorium, or other building intended for the assembly occupancy of people.
The law also allows RIDs to submit for permitting in single family residential projects of unlimited square footage, and they may use the terms “Registered Interior Designer” or “RID” and/or their State of Alabama registration number on any sign, card, listing, advertising, business name, stationery, or in any other manner.
The terms “Interior Design” and “Interior Designer” continue to be unregulated in Alabama, and the law does not impact an unregistered individual’s ability to provide unregulated interior design services, such as space planning, lighting layouts, the selection of furniture and finishes, etc. These are not restricted to a RID and can be prepared for spaces of unlimited square footage.
Who monitors registration in the state of Alabama and what is required to maintain registration?
Registration by The Alabama Board for Registered Interior Designers (ABRID) is the highest standard of professionalism for interior designers in the State of Alabama.
The ABRID administers the Alabama Interior Design Registration Act of 2010 under Title 54, Section 15C of the Code of Alabama 1975, which establishes a registration process for those interior designers who choose to obtain the credential as a Registered Interior Designer (RID) in the state of Alabama.
The registration term runs from October 1 to September 30 of every year. In order to maintain registration, renewal applications must include payment of a renewal fee established by the board and a signed affidavit showing completion of all continuing education requirements.
The continuing education requirements are as follows:
Each RID should attend 10 hours of continuing education classes per registration term.
All 10 hours should be classified as Health, Safety & Welfare (HSW).
At least four of the hours should be attended live. Virtual meetings qualify if the presenter is speaking live (e.g. not pre-recorded).
A maximum of six hours can be self-directed. Self-paced or pre-recorded courses fall in this category.
Four of the hours (either live or self-directed) must relate to Codes & Standards topics. These could include:
Barrier Free/ADA/Universal Design (i.e. ADA, ANSI)
Building Codes and Standards (i.e. ICC, ANSI, BOCA)
Energy Codes and Standards (i.e. ASHRAE, ICC)
Fire Safe Design (i.e. NFPA)
Testing and Compliance Standards (i.e. ASTM, NSF, UL, BIFMA)
Sustainability Standards (i.e. LEED Rating System)
NOTE: To count for C&S, a sustainability course must address a specific rating system or standard. A course about generic sustainability or sustainable best practices will not be accepted for C&S credit.
Hours cannot be carried over from year to year.
As a benefit to its RID members, IIDA Alabama offers at least one live CEU per month, excluding December. Unless noted otherwise, all CEUs are classified as HSW. An annual half-day CEU event, usually a Friday in February, is offered to meet the annual Codes & Standards requirements.
You may be randomly selected for an audit to guarantee CEU compliance. Maintaining accurate records within your IDCEC account helps make this process easy. See our Continuing Education page for more information.
What are the steps to become a Registered Interior Designer (RID) in Alabama?
The necessary forms and registration information can be found on the ABRID website in detail.
A summary of the qualifications for each applicant are as follows:
Be of good ethical character.
Meet one of the following criteria:
Satisfy all the education and experience requirements for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) and have passed the NCIDQ.
Hold a degree from a National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB) accredited school, or is a registered architect, who satisfies eligibility requirements to take the NCIDQ examination.
Is at least 21 years of age.
If you meet the above requirements, you can submit the registration form, a non-refundable fee, and various documents to prove citizenship, education history, degree, and work history to ABRID. The Board will review your application and make a decision on your registration status.
What is the Alabama Interior Design Coalition (AIDC) and why should I become a member?
The Alabama Interior Design Coalition (AIDC) is a not for profit, all volunteer organization founded in 1995 to promote the welfare of all persons engaged in the business of Interior Design in the state of Alabama.
AIDC serves as an advocate for RIDs in Alabama. Politics and legislative efforts are on-going, and a year-round presence is necessary for proposing new legislation or preventing potential legislation that may negatively impact our industry. It is imperative that AIDC maintain a visible and vocal presence in Montgomery to safeguard the Practice Act for RIDs and to continue to move our profession forward.
Membership in AIDC, along with state registration, shows legislators that we are serious about our industry. Membership and any fundraisers and events financially support a lobbyist who monitors legislation on our behalf and assists us with any reviews or updates.
AIDC members include practicing professionals from design organizations, unaffiliated independent designers, allied industries, educational members such as faculty teaching interior design programs, and interior design students.
NOTE: This information was collected from IIDA, ASID, ABRID, AIDC, and IDCEC resources.
Many thanks to them for letting us use this information to educate our members.