Designers Discuss Why Certification Matters – NKBA


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Designers Discuss Why Certification Matters

Two top designers sit down with NKBA | KBIS to explain why getting certified utilizing the reinvigorated NKBA | KBIS Certification Program will change the trajectory of designers’ careers.
Judith Neary and Corey Klassen

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.”

NKBA | KBIS: 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.”

NKBA | KBIS: 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.”

NKBA | KBIS: 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.”

Changes to the CKBD Program

  • Participants must be an NKBA member to apply.
  • It’s FREE to apply.
  • Applications are accepted year-round (rolling).
  • The entire program is completed online (study material to exams).
  • Required exams are offered in the spring and fall period during designated times.
  • Exams do not need to be completed in any specific order.
  • Newly designed CKBD appellation digital image and certificates.

Changes to the CMKBD Program

  • Candidates must have maintained their CKBD status for six consecutive years before applying.
  • It’s FREE to apply online.
  • Once approved, candidates will have one full year to validate the Eligibility Requirements that fall under Education, Professional, Work Experience, Master Portfolio Review and Master Profile criteria.
  • Newly designed CMKBD appellation digital image and certificates. 

Program-Wide Changes

  • Qualified candidates are based on education and work experience.
  • The NKBA has created a specific curriculum track for each type of qualifying candidate.
  • Purchase includes necessary coursework to complete the program and support by means of tutorials, instructional videos, practice exams, additional resources and much more.
  • Candidates must complete the program in 12 months or less.
  • Access to a Learning Management System (LMS) platform, separate from the NKBA website.
  • The educational curriculum is aligned with current industry standards.

To learn more about the NKBA Certification Program, including the CKBD, CMKBD and other resources that can provide you with professional recognition, a competitive edge and expert knowledge, visit the NKBA Learning Department Page today. If you have any questions or need additional information on the program, please email