Lighting Design Certifications

Lighting designers are as diverse as the types of projects they design. Architectural lighting designers, contractors, electrical engineers, interior designers, architects, and even sales reps all provide lighting design services – at many levels of complexity and quality.

How can you identify whether a lighting designer is qualified or a quack? Lighting certification.

We’ve all seen poor lighting design, and many have had to live and work with it. How can an owner or manager of a potential lighting project identify whether a lighting designer is qualified or a quack? It’s not easy.

There are many industry groups that educate and evaluate lighting professionals, including lighting designers. Lighting.com sorts through the alphabet soup of lighting credentials that recognize illumination professionals as literate, competent, or even expert in their respective fields.

“Carrying an LC, IALD, CLC, CLMC, or CLEP designation after your name can elevate the level of conversation and the level of credibility and trust,” according to Mark Lien, an educator and director of the Hubbell Lighting Solutions Center. “Manufacturers and their sales forces are often incorrectly stereotyped as being more concerned with the sale than with quality lighting,” said Lien. “But a lighting certification demonstrates a commitment and concern. It indicates a depth of knowledge of our industry.” Throughout the building industry, employers and prospective clients look for these lighting credentials.

Two ways that lighting professionals set themselves apart is by obtaining a professional membership designation and/or becoming certified:

  • Associations such as IALD, PLDA, or IES may require a level of knowledge or experience for members to carry a particular designation after their name. A designation is not, strictly speaking, a credential.
  • Professional certification is a voluntary process that recognizes a level of knowledge or competence.

Licensure is a non-voluntary process in which a government agency identifies qualified professionals and grants them permission to perform services. Many states require that an electrical engineer and electrical contractor be licensed to ensure the safety of the public. But the license does not ensure an understanding of quality lighting design.

A continuing-education requirement is a hallmark of lighting desing certification programs Several of the programs covered in this article (“Learn more…” below) do offer voluntary professional certifications. Whether it’s a sales person working at a home lighting showroom or an engineer called in on a large commercial project, a key identifier of competence is a certification requiring ongoing professional education and periodic certification renewal.

Certification – or even licensure, if such a lighting design license existed – is no guarantee of performance. But using a professional whose expertise has been validated, through certification or professional membership designation, greatly increases the likelihood of a good project outcome. NCQLP, ALA, NALMCO, IALD, and others do maintain databases of credentialed lighting pros.

Learn more about lighting design certifications:

Written by Lois I. Hutchinson

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10 Sep