Designers Discuss Why Certification Matters

Published: June 4, 2024

Recognizing its members’ objectives and the needs of today’s design world in an ever-changing kitchen and bath industry, NKBA|KBIS transformed its longstanding Certification Program. This includes revisions to the CKBD program, the CMKBD program, and changes program-wide. NKBA|KBIS is one of the industry’s leaders in delivering the most current educational resources and certification programs for design professionals — and this restructuring is a reflection of the association’s commitment to provide its members with the information and education they need to be successful.

Judith Neary and Corey Klassen are two long time CMKBD members. Corey earned his certification in 2016; Judith completed hers in 2008. In addition to their design duties, they co-lecture around the United States teaching designers about the business of design. We sat down with them to learn why they believe getting certified elevated their careers and their businesses, and why they are working closely with NKBA|KBIS to continuously improve the certification program.

NKBA | KBIS: Why did you choose to get your CMKBD?

Judith: “I was interested in finding something that wasn’t typically mainstream. The value of certification is personally driven. You have to make that personal commitment. If you don’t make that personal commitment…you can’t achieve that personal commitment. I committed and it changed my career.”

Corey: “I felt behind the eight ball, since I started my design career later in life. I really felt like I needed something that was a gold star standard that said to clients ‘He really can do this.’ It was also a way of me having a portfolio without actually having a portfolio. And it was a way for me to advance myself professionally, and a way for me to gain higher earning projects.”

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How has having the certification helped you?

Corey: “Earning design certifications are a huge differentiator when clients are comparing designers. It’s a huge competitive advantage. It’s also just helped make me a better designer, and it’s made me so much faster at what I’m doing.”

The Certification Reimagined Program launched in October 2022. How has the program changed since you first joined?

Judith: “Our industry has advanced technically. Clients’ standards have changed. If you look at the evolution of appliances, of plumbing, and of all the products we have in our homes, combined with the way that we all live now versus the past, everything is more technical and digital. Our industry is far more specialized than it used to be, and our certifications have to align with that. The new program upped the game for designers.”

What advice would you give to new designers who are wondering if they should get certified?

Corey: “It’s hard. But nothing that’s worth doing is easy. The reward of getting it is amazing. It helps you remain passionate about what you do, and I believe that lifelong learning is critical to success. The certification allows you to advance your career because you are challenging yourself.”

Judith: “There is a point in your career where you need to stop making it all about you and your pride. It’s about taking your personality out of the design and putting the homeowner’s personality into your design solution. The certification process teaches you how to do that successfully. It also taught me how to manage conflict as part of the project, which is something that all successful designers need to learn.”

For details on the changes to the certification programs and information on the process, see the full story here.

Tagged with: NKBA, certification, CMKBD

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