Interior designers in Iowa have been trying for 10 years to get state officials to establish a licensing process for their profession, and they could be closer to getting their wish. The Iowa Senate this week approved a bill that would allow Iowans to become “registered” interior designers. Senator Pat Ward, a Republican from West Des Moines, says it’ll help Iowa interior designers work in other states. Ward says interior designers employed by large companies like Pioneer and Wells Fargo that have operations in other states need to be registered in order to work in out-of-state company facilities. Ward says it’ll help Iowa interior design firms compete for jobs in other states, too. Ward says Iowa design firms are often knocked out of contention for big jobs elsewhere because they can’t prove their interior designers have comparable skills to designers from other states who have that “registered” designer status.”So this really gives our design firms a seat at the table when it comes to bidding big, competitive jobs, especially jobs outside the state of Iowa,” Ward says. Ward says there are many companies in Iowa that employ interior designers; some are architectural firms. Twenty-two other states and the District of Columbia have a process for designating “registered” interior designers. “To be registered you must complete a combination of experience and education equivalent to six years, so if you have a two year associate degree and four years of experience that would qualify you, or if you have a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience, but any combination of six years and then you must have passed a national examination…which tests you on code requirements, fire requirements, disability act requirements and a lot of technical requirements that you must know in order to be registered,” Ward says. If the bill becomes law, gaining “registered” status is voluntary, not required, for interior designers. Ward says it’s just like the field of accounting. Some accountants are Certified Public Accountants, or C-P-As, and offer a higher range of services than someone who is an accountant. Ward believes the most to offer “registered” status to Iowa interior designers may keep some Iowa grads in Iowa. Ward says Iowa State University’s interior design program is big, and a number of those students have lobbied her on the bill. The bill cleared the Iowa Senate on Thursday — the first time is has ever cleared the Senate. Similar bills have cleared the Iowa House in past years, but this bill must pass the House again this year and get the governor’s signature before it can become law.
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