There are no governmental bodies that regulate the interior decorating profession in North America. This means that there are no licenses required to practice and no memberships necessary to work as an interior decorator. They may, however, choose to voluntarily seek certification and membership in professional associations.
While it is not necessary for an interior decorator to pass a qualifying exam in order to practice, joining a recognized association enhances the member’s credentials. Certified Interior Decorators International acts as both a certifying body and a professional membership association for interior decorators. The Canadian Decorators’ Association is a Canadian professional membership association for both interior decorators and interior designers.
An interior decorator is not an interior designer, although many people confuse the two. According to the American Society of Interior Designers, designers are regulated in 28 states and are often required to pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification examination.
While many of their functions may overlap with those of an interior designer, interior decorators are more limited in what services they may offer. They cannot make structural changes to a building’s architecture nor add permanent furniture to any room. These types of changes require an interior designer.