I saw SOLIDWORKS for the first time in 2006. I attended SOLIDWORKS Essentials and that was as far as I went with it. I never attended a “What’s New” session, and after I found out I could get certified, I chose not to. Who needs to get certified? I don’t have the time or the need for that. Bah. I can complete my tasks just fine, thank you. Certifications are for technical support and those “super users” I see on the forums, they’re not for little ol’ me. I was absolutely and completely wrong.
Two years ago, I decided to take a chance and took my current job as an Application Engineer for CADimensions. Basically what that means is I teach training classes, and maybe I’m the person on the other end of the phone when you put in a request for technical support. Funny thing, when I was weighing out the pros and cons of the job, it never occurred to me that to do those things properly, I would have to get certified. Imagine my surprise when we began putting together my on-boarding schedule and the first thing I had to do was achieve my Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional certification (CSWP). Instant and overwhelming panic! I have some good news, it really wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it to be. I had to study and I had to practice and I admit I freaked out a few times, but throughout preparation, something really amazing started to happen.
Slowly but surely, I became more aware of my actions within the software. Slowly but surely, I stopped just hitting the green check mark and became friends with the Property Manager and began to understand more and more of those sometimes overwhelming options. My models were better, and they took less and less time to build. The exams force you into a time constraint, and that time constraint forces best practices. Suddenly, you don’t have time to scratch a model because you didn’t really think that first pass all the way through. When you practice for these exams, you do it under the pressure of a timer, and that timer forces you to do it right the first time. Those best practices translate into your everyday use of the software and before you know it’s happened, you’re the best you’ve ever been.
Somewhere around my Advanced Sheet Metal Specialist exam, I got curious about the certification program as a whole and I started asking questions. How many people out there are actually certified? How many certifications are actually available? The answers surprised me. Currently, there are more than two million SOLIDWORKS users in the world.* That’s two million people with that line item on their resume that says “Experienced SOLIDWORKS User.” Of those, only about 100,000 are actually certified.** That’s barely 5% of the SOLIDWORKS population. There are eight different ways you can certify in SOLIDWORKS. You can become a Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate, a Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional, an Advanced Sheet Metal Specialist, an Advanced Weldments Specialist, an Advanced Mold Tools Specialist, an Advanced Surfacing Specialist, an Advanced Drawing Tools Specialist, and finally, a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert. Each of these focuses on a different set of modeling tools available in the software. And the fun doesn’t end with SOLIDWORKS. There are also certification exams available for SOLIDWORKS Simulation, SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM, and SOLIDWORKS Sustainability.
As a Certified SOLIDWORKS user, you’ll be able to consider projects from more than one perspective and with the bigger picture in mind, maybe put ideas you never thought possible on paper. And yes, you’ll have to work for it. 😀
As an employer, it might also mean that your team has room to improve. I’m not saying users who aren’t certified are bad users; I wasn’t certified until I became part of the reseller network and I got by just fine. But I’ve found throughout my certification journey that awareness is the best weapon you can have when it comes to SOLIDWORKS. I’ve got to be aware of the commands available and the options available within them. By allowing your teams time to pursue their certifications, you give them the chance to develop their existing skills, and maybe discover a new skill set that makes their jobs simpler – and we all know the easier, the better. You both win big.
If you’d like to learn more about SOLIDWORKS Certification, you can check out our two-part Lunch and Learn series, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*More than 2,170,100 product designers and engineers worldwide, representing 182,300 organizations, use SOLIDWORKS to bring their designs to life – from the coolest gadgets to innovations that deliver a better tomorrow.
**SolidWorks Certification Center Directory on 02-28-2014.