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Why All Schools Should Help Students Earn a CAD Software Certification — and How to Do It


Oct 7 2019

It’s time to earn that software certification — we can help.

One of the best ways to show off your CAD skills is to get certified! If you haven’t gone down the certification route yet, we get it. It can seem like a big undertaking at first. Thankfully, with a great training plan and an easy-to-use cert prep course, you can earn a certification in a matter of weeks or months.

Whether you’re a teacher looking to get your class certified, a professional interested in proving your skills, or a student who wants to get a competitive edge in the college admissions process, SolidProfessor’s certification preparation courses will help you meet your goals in record time. Because no one’s got time to retake their certification test multiple times!

In This Article

Why should you pursue a software certification?

Getting an Autodesk or SOLIDWORKS certification might seem like a lot of work, so what’s in it for you? While there are dozens of reasons to pursue software certification (like the ability to increase your earning potential or lockdown that promotion you’ve been eyeing), here are just a few more incentives to get after that certification:

  • Industry recognition: Whether you’re a student, teacher, professional, or manager, earning a CAD certification is a great way to prove you have the skills necessary to work in a competitive design environment. And no matter where you’re at in the country — or the world — a CAD certification is universal.
  • Gain marketable skills: The process of preparing for the certification exam requires hours of training and practice, which means that you’re gaining valuable skills along the way. No matter what level of designer you are, the skills you gain in the cert prep process can be added to your resume, making you a more marketable designer.
  • Join an elite group of designers: Earning a software certification isn’t easy, but once you do it, you join the ranks of high-performing designers. Many certification providers (like SOLIDWORKS) also keep a list of certification holders, so organizations looking for employees can browse current certification holders to help narrow their search. Make sure you’re on the list!

Certification means something a little different for everyone: promotion potential, attracting the attention of elite universities, or just bragging rights. It’s always a great time to put your skills to the test.

READ MORE: 30+ Expert Tips for Passing the CSWA Exam

Why do you need a dedicated certification preparation course?

Have you ever prepared for an exam, only to find on the test day that you studied the wrong material? Everyone has been there! But you don’t want to be in that situation when you sit for your certification exam. Cert prep courses, like those offered by SolidProfessor, focus your studies on the skill sets and knowledge areas that you’re sure to be tested in. And, unique to SolidProfessor’s cert prep courses, we provide a simulated testing environment, so you can practice like it’s the real thing. That way, there are no surprises when you get to your exam.

Cert prep courses are also a great way to brush up on your skillset and make sure you’re designing as efficiently as possible. Whether you’re new to CAD, coming back after a break, or trying to become a better designer, the process of relearning, taking exams, and studying your software will inevitably make you a better designer.

What should you expect from SolidProfessor’s certification preparation courses?

SolidProfessor’s online, video-based cert prep courses give you exam-specific information and training, while also helping you brush up on the skills that are guaranteed to be tested on the exam. Each of our cert prep courses follows a similar flow:

  • What to expect in the exam
  • How to register for the exam
  • How the exam is administered
  • What kinds of questions to expect
  • What to expect after the exam and how to get your results
  • The specific topics that will be covered with instructional videos on how to enhance those skill sets
  • Plenty of timed practice tests in a simulated exam environment so you’re fully prepared for the real exam

Expect to spend about 2 hours watching educational videos (but add on more time if you need to pause, rewind, or rewatch a video — most people do!). Then, you’ll want to complete at least one practice exam, which will take you a few hours. We highly recommend that you take a couple practice exams to really get a good feel for whether or not you’re ready to sit for the exam. If there’s a particular skill or feature that you’re struggling with, we include a list of SolidProfessor videos that dive deeper into each of the skills required for the certification exams.

READ MORE: Get Certified for Free by Earning a SOLIDWORKS Certification Voucher

What software does SolidProfessor provide cert prep training for?

We offer certification courses for SOLIDWORKS and most Autodesk products, and we’re adding new courses every week! Check out each of our cert prep courses and watch the first five videos for free to get a feel for the cadence of our online training:

We also offer Learning Paths for the CSWA, CSWP, and CSWE. These Learning Paths provide you with all the foundational knowledge you need to know before starting the cert prep process. Then, once you gain those foundational skills, the Learning Path ends with all the great cert prep knowledge that will help you pass the certification exam. Think of it as a “couch to 5K” plan or, in the case of the CSWE, a “couch to marathon” plan!

An added bonus: Many states offer reimbursement to schools for each student who earns an approved industry certification (oftentimes, this includes Revit, Inventor, and/or SOLIDWORKS certifications). So, by focusing on properly preparing for the certification exam, you might actually make money for your program depending on how many students pass their certification exam!

READ MORE: How to Land a Great CAD Career without a 4-year Degree

When should you take a certification exam?

For the Autodesk user certifications and the CSWA, we see students as young as middle school earning certifications. Typically, students need a solid background in CAD plus at least one semester of cert prep. For example, at W.R. Thomas Middle School, Adam Mack spreads out the exam prep over the course of a year, but he’s made it work in a more condensed timeline of about nine weeks. In his first year running an Inventor User Certification Preparation Course with SolidProfessor, Mack’s students achieved at 95% pass rate!

Students who’ve had some training in CAD typically have enough base knowledge to go through the SolidProfessor’s cert prep process on their own by the time they’re sophomores or juniors in high school. Some schools offer certification preparation as part of an engineering club, some as extra credit, and others as an honors program. We also see many schools bake cert prep into their regular curriculum. No matter how your school or program decides to approach it, make sure you allow at least a few weeks for preparation. We do recommend that high schools offer some kind of cert prep for students, as more and more high school students are earning their certification to differentiate themselves in the job field and when applying to colleges/universities.

If you’re interested in pursuing a CSWP or CSWE, you’ll need significantly more CAD training, which you can do on your own with SolidProfessor. We’ve seen a few high school students earn their CSWP, so it’s certainly achievable with a strong training plan, but it’s more likely to see a college student or professional with a CSWP.

CSWEs are even rarer — making it a very desirable certification to strive for — and most of them are professionals working in the field. There are only a few thousand CSWEs worldwide! Again, if you have a strong training plan and the time to dedicate to studying, it’s possible for high school and college students to earn a CSWE but it’s not as typical.

READ MORE: 29 Middle School Students Earn Their CSWA

If you teach a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) engineering course, are your students prepared for the certification exam?

PLTW provides great in-class projects that require a good working knowledge of how to navigate CAD software. However, PLTW teachers report that what they do in-class still isn’t enough to fully prepare students for certification exams, so they use SolidProfessor’s online video lessons to bridge the gap. Furthermore, many schools opt to teach additional software platforms outside of Inventor and Revit used in the PLTW curriculum, and SolidProfessor offers instruction for those additional software titles.

PLTW Master Teacher Cliff Greer explains, “We use SolidProfessor for certification preparation because what we do in class doesn’t give them enough training to pass the exam. My students typically spend at least a month and a half preparing specifically for the exam in addition to their work on projects. Students are required to score at least an 80% on the practice test before they are allowed to take the certification exam.”

As the Official Training Partner for PLTW, SolidProfessor is available for PLTW teachers to use for their own professional development. If you’re a PLTW teacher, you can access our certification preparation courses and go through them yourself to see just how straightforward the process is!

READ MORE: The Top 5 Ways SolidProfessor Can Enhance Your PLTW Curriculum

Your CSWA Exam Preparation Guide

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Kelly Mantick
Kelly Mantick

About the Author

Kelly Mantick

SolidProfessor academic content marketer and amateur hula hooper.