Professional Affiliation, Industry Certification, Continuing Education , and Business Support for the Interior Decorating and Design Trade





DANA CPD Certification

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is the process for certification?

A: After you become a member, you can register for certification through our website. If you join DANA and sign up for certification at the same time, you will receive a special discount. You will see this opportunity on your payment page.

Once you complete the application for certification and make your payment, you will be sent a link to the 3-part study manual.  After you’ve studied the manual (we suggest a minimum of three to six weeks), contact us by email through the website and we will schedule a test date and time for you.

Q: How is the exam administered?

A: The exam is taken online and is timed.  You can take the exam whenever you are ready – up to one year after certification registration.

Q: What types of questions are on the exam?

A: The exam consists of one short essay question which you send to us by email before you take the online portion of the exam. The essay can be prepared at your leisure since it is not part of the timed portion of the exam. Once we receive your essay, you can take the online exam, which is made up of questions that include multiple choice, true/false, matching, and fill in the blanks. The categories cover a wide range of decorating and business topics included in the study manual. All questions are based on the study guide manual.

Q: What are the topics covered in the study manual?

A: The DANA Certification Study Manual covers a wide range of decorating and business topics, including: The Elements and Principles of Design, The Decorating Plan, Color, Fabrics, Paint and Wall Finishes, Common Decorating Styles , Flooring, Lighting, Soft Window Treatments, Bedding Basics, Trims, Creating Focal Points, Furniture Placement Basics, Marketing, Sales, Communication, Market Niches, Time Mastery, and more.

Q: Who wrote the study manual?  Who wrote the test questions?

A: Margarett DeGange, M.Ed., Executive Director of DANA, wrote the training manual based upon her extensive 20 plus years of business and design training and industry experience. She has served for 15 years as director of the DeGangi School of Interior Decoration, and has also served a variety of industry posts including National Director of Education and Training for the WCU, local as well as National Education Committee Chair for the WCAA, National Vice President of WCAA, National Advisor for We Make Color Easy, and various seats on business, marketing, and design industry boards, advisory posts, and committees.

Margarett DeGange is a design and business coach, and a Master university degreed professional instructional designer and adult education specialist. She has created content for many organizations, companies, magazines, and private firms, and she has been the leading forerunner in bringing online education to the interior design and decorating industry.

Best practices in professional education, content building, and examination demand that instruction and testing be formulated by university degreed adult learning specialists and professional instructional designers. Margarett DeGange's education and experience meets and exceeds these requirements.

The test questions were also formulated by Margarett DeGange, with input from other industry leaders.

Q: What is the passing grade?

A: The passing grade is 75%.

Q: What happens if I fail the test?  Can I retake it?

A: Yes.  You will have another opportunity to take the test at no extra charge.  If you do not pass on the second attempt, an additional fee of $100.00 will be charged to re-take the exam.

Q: What will I receive when I am certified?  What does this entitle me to?

A: You will receive the designation “Certified Professional Decorator” (CPD).  You can use this designation – and the DANA Certified Professional Decorator Logo – in your marketing materials, on your website, on your business cards, in your portfolio, etc.  The digital logo is provided to you after passing the exam.

As a Certified Professional Decorator, your listing on the DANA directory page will be highlighted with a CPD logo for homeowners to see.

Q: What are the career benefits of becoming a Certified Professional Decorator?

A: Certification adds to your credibility as a decorator and provides instant expert status in the eyes of consumers. It
also heightens the opportunity for trust between you and your clients. Your prospects and clients are reassured when you hold professional certification and when you are affiliated with the professional organization for the decorating industry.

Passing DANA’s certification exam and earning your CPD demonstrates that you have:

  • Learned basic and advanced concepts of interior decorating
  • Committed yourself to good business practices
  • Promised to abide by DANA’s Code of Ethics
  • Committed to maintain your industry knowledge through continuing education every year
  • Joined an elite community of like-minded decorators who are dedicated to maintaining exceptionally high standards of professionalism
  • Expanded your professional contacts, knowledge, and resources through networking opportunities

Homeowners feel more confident using the services of a professional who has achieved these benchmarks.  In
this respect, you can also use your CPD designation as a powerful marketing tool.

DANA aggressively markets the organization and its members, and CPDs are highlighted and spotlighted.

Q: How long does my certification last?  Are there additional fees to remain certified?

A: Once you are certified, you will remain a Certified Professional Decorator as long as you are a member of DANA and you take two continuing education teleseminars each year. These classes are FREE to DANA members, and are offered monthly.  Although you will still have the normal DANA annual membership dues, there are no additional fees to keep your certification.

Q: When I am DANA certified, can I refer to myself as an Interior Designer?

A: There are two issues to review before deciding whether or not you can or should use the title “Interior Designer:

1.       Does that title reflect the work you do?

2.       Is the title restricted in your state?

1.       Interior design work involves more than aesthetics.  Interior design involves one or more of the technical design aspects in working with interiors, such as space planning, technical drawing and/or CAD, programming and functional analysis, contract administration, reflected ceiling plans and fabrication of nonstructural elements. If that is the work you are involved in, in most cases, you can use the title (see #2 below).

2.       For the last 30 years, proponents have spent much time and money lobbying to regulate both the title “Interior Designer” and the practice of interior design and interior decorating through government-sanctioned title and practice laws. Currently, 22 states have some type of state-imposed interior design regulation:

a.       Title Laws.  Until recently, seven states (NM, IL, TX, OK, CT, AL, FL) restricted the use of the title “Interior Designer”  and “interior design” services to those who met a minimum of 6 years of combined education and experience (under another licensed designer) and passage of the NCIDQ exam.  Due to legal challenges brought by the Institute for Justice, who claim that it is unconstitutional to allow citizens to practice interior design but not market themselves using the title that accurately describes their work, MN and IL have amended their law, TX passed legislation to amend its law which is waiting for Governor Perry’s signature, AL has introduced legislation, OK and CT lawsuits have been filed and FL is likely to see a legal challenge very soon.  It is quite probable that all restrictions on using the title “Interior Designer” will be abolished in the near future.

b.       Practice Laws.  Currently, only three states (FL, LA, and NV) regulate who may practice interior design.  A fourth state, Alabama had a practice law but it was stuck down in 2007 and declared unconstitutional.  This was a very important victory, as that law also included interior decorating under its restrictive umbrella.

15 states have just a title act that restricts a modified version of the title, such as “registered,” “licensed,” or “certified” interior designer.  The CPD designation does not meet state requirement in states that have any type of title qualification, and DANA Certified Professional Decorators should not use these titles in the states that do require a combination of the formal university training, mentorship, and the NCIDQ examination as explained above. For more information on this topic, check your specific state’s requirements.

With that said, we are pleased to inform you that the CPD designation supports your practice of Interior Decorating as a profession, which specifically deals with interior cosmetics. The Decorators’ Alliance of North America is the organization that provides Interior Decorators and Designers and the Interior Decorating Industry at large with educational opportunities and professional training in the specific field of Interior Decorating. DANA CPD's can use the term "Interior Decorator" or DANA "Certified Interior Decorator".

Special interest groups are continuing in their efforts to limit who can use the term "Interior Designer". That is why The Decorators' Alliance of North America is a sponsor of The Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), which is an organization that protects the rights of Interior Decorators and Interior Designers, and design industry professionals both with and without a formal degree, who indeed have a legal right to use the term "Interior Designer" and to practice interior design and interior decorating. The IDPC serves to abolish legislation that unfairly targets Interior Decorators and Interior Designers and which burdens the practice with unnecessary and/or unfair requirements, and which can infringe upon the constitutional rights of Interior Decorators and Interior Designers to call themselves "Interior Designers" and to practice their trade. Left unchecked, proponents of regulation would include all decorating services in their restrictive laws, as can be witnessed by Alabama, where it was a crime to move a throw pillow without a license. 

Many persons who use the term "Interior Designer," “Registered Interior Designer,” “Certified Interior Designer,” and “Licensed Interior Designer” throughout the United States have NOT attained a degree or formal education in Interior Design, and yet are able, because of "grandfather clauses" and certain legislation, to use these while other, equally qualified persons are not.  This gives them a state-sanctioned marketing advantage, while places other, equally qualified decorators/designers at an unfair marketing disadvantage.  These unmerited and unjust differences and the "ill-written" laws that support them are now being recognized and closely looked at by a large body of professionals who are coming together to protect our rights and to protect our trade from unreasonable legislation and self-seeking intentions of certain special interest groups. We support the IDPC in its efforts to promote fairness for ALL Interior Decorators and Interior Designers.

It is extremely important for the future of the profession that Interior Decorators study for and pass the DANA CPD exam to gain credibility and enhance the educational standard for the Interior Decorating and Interior Design Trades.  This is the fair and appropriate means to enhance the profession.

To begin your Certified professional Decorator (CPD) certification process,


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