How does this work?
The American Board of Design & Research is the official board that licenses Design and Research Practitioners in their field and specialties. The way it works is similar to how Doctors or Lawyers obtain a license to practice.

You're required to:
1) Apply to the board
2) Take a Core Exam
3) Pass an Ethical Assessment
4) Renew your license each year
View our Price Breakdown
You'll need to apply to the board before you get started. If your application is approved you'll receive a letter of approval with a code that allows you to register for the exam. Application fees are $399.99. To learn more about the application process, click the button below.
Core Exam
As a non-licensed practitioner or student, you'll take a national exam, known as the Core Exam. The Core Exam is broken up into 2 parts.

If required, you will take state specific exams to keep you proficient and up to date with state specific rules.

For those practitioners specializing in a specific area, you'll be required to take a specialty exam.
Exam Schedule
Day 1
The Core Exam is broken up into two days. You'll take the Core Exam Part 1, on day one. The Core Exam Part 1 is typically 200 multiple-choice questions broken up into sections.
This usually takes 4 hours. Not including a break.
Day 2
The Core Exam Part 2 consists of the following:

2 one-hour essay questions
One 90-minute Didactic Performance Test
3.5 hours. Not including a break.
Day 3
Specialty Exams (may not apply to you)
State Specific Education (check with the board)
Max 4 hours, if needed, you may need to schedule a fourth day, depending on how many specialty and state exams you might be required to take.
Exam Scheduling
What's on the exam?
Exam Frequency
The Exam is given twice a year and may be taken remotely during each term period or semester.
The Fall semester starts in late August through December.
The Spring semester starts in January through late May.
View Schedule
Admission Requirements
You must be 18 years of age by the time you take the exam.
You must register and create an account with the American Board of Design & Research.
Registration Process
US Citizen
You must be a US Citizen to take the exam.
You must have a Design Degree, Researching Degree, or letters of recommendation from existing license holders in good standing.
State or Field Specific Exams
Some states may require specific exams or education to be licensed. In those cases, you will need to submit proof of completion of the required education or exams.
Ethical Assessment
You'll be required to perform a background check and pass an Ethical Assessment. The Ethical Assessment is performed the Monday, after you take your exam -- by the board and its members.

You will have your results of this assessment by the time your exam results are ready.
Learn more about the Ethical Assessment
Create an account
Create an account.
Create an account
Apply for the exam.
Apply for your license
Register 30 days prior to the start of the semester you intend to register for. Note that only accepted applicants will receive an email with a registration link.
Registration Process
Take the exam
Take the exam and pass. After passing the exam the board will start your ethical assessment.
Ethical assessment
Pass the Ethical Assessment. This is essentially a background check. In some cases the board may reach out to you for more details.
Learn more about the Ethical Assessment
Receive your license
Receive your license in the following formats: 
Card (optional)
8.5 x 11 (optional)
After Your Initial Exam
After you pass your initial exam and receive your license -- you will need to remain active in your practice and renew your license annually.
Make sure to renew your license by the deadline or you will be charged a late fee.
Annual Renewal Requirements
Continuing Education Credits
You are required to complete 30 hours of Continuing Education Credits (CECs). Proof of your CECs should be submitted with your annual license renewal.
How Continuing Education Credits work
License Renewal Fee
You are required to pay the annual renewal fee.
This can be sponsored or payed in bulk by your employer.
Annual License Renewal
No Malpractice
Any complaints against you will be investigated. Your license may be suspended while we investigate a complaint. If the complaint is valid, your license will be revoked. You have 45 days to appeal a revoked license.

If your appeal is granted you will be reinstated and given a valid license. If your appeal is not granted you will need to take the exam and restart the license process as if it were your first time.
Proof of Practice
You are required to provide proof, each year, that shows you are still actively practicing in the field you are licensed in to renew your license.
Annual Ethical Assessment
Pass the Annual Ethical Assessment.
License Benefits
Having a license benefits you in many ways. Here are some examples of how a license will help you and enhance your career.
Today, practitioners do not have anything to fall back on, nor do they have a clear direction of their career paths. This leaves Researchers and Designers in a state of confusion about their professions and devalues the nature of their work. Having a license provides legitimacy in our professions and allows us to clear up any confusion about what we do.
Often we are faced with decisions, in the workplace, that covers ethical and moral challenges. A license allows you to reframe conversations, with you as the authoritative expert, and facilitates you getting through difficult conversations with your boss or stakeholders.
A license in some respects is a form of insurance. Think of your license as a means to back up your practice and allow you to fallback on the board when making tough decisions, or during debates. For example, if you are in a legal battle over the work you produced, your license proves your competency and your skills -- providing you performed to the best of your ability and designed or researched ethically, while upholding the practitioner's oath.
There's a lot of fuzziness around what we do and the great thing about your license is that it comes from a group that has clearly defined the scope of your work. This creates a culture of literacy around what we do, as Practitioners, and saves time in avoiding discussions around our methodologies, practice, and terms.
Everyone needs a little structure and guidance and having a license will give you the structure needed to understand the new rules, principles, laws, and considerations for the consumers of the experiences you produce in your practice.
You'll know your stuff! We will work hard to ensure you are up-to-date with the latest design and research methodologies and best practices through seminars, conventions, summits, our newsletter, and on day 3 of our bi-annual exams. On day 3 you are welcome to drop by and learn more from us through our scheduled conferences and talks.
Continued Education
As part of the license program you are required to attend continued design education courses (CDEs) and continued research education courses (CREs). You will have access to our partners who have agreed to provide this coursework to you at a subsidized rate.
A license gives you accountability.
Today, it's hard to push back or stand up for your users. A license will allow you to have a voice on your team because there are objective exam results that prove you are an expert in your field.
We want to abolish concepts like asking practitioners to take home an assignment to prove they can perform their job, during an interview process. After all, if you have a license -- that proves you have the necessary skills for a job! We want to help you skip to the front of the line when job searching because there's little left to vet if you're a licensed professional.
A license takes the fraudulent and predatory practices out of the hiring process because as a licensed practitioner, your candidacy is no longer in the hands of a broker. You'll have direct access to hiring managers and have the option to speak with them directly, through our searchable database of licensed practitioners and hiring managers.
It's no secret that licensed professionals can and do receive more pay.
You'll build a strong network of like-minded professionals that have sworn the same oath, that you did, and can lend you a hand when you need one.
You'll have an option to add specialties in disciplines such as television, healthcare, biotech, fintech, and more.
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