I am often asked about the SOLIDWORKS Certification program, primarily about the benefits of being certified. Since SOLIDWORKS World starts this week, and since everyone who registers to attend SOLIDWORKS World 2015 gets the opportunity to take a complimentary certification exam alongside other SOLIDWORKS users — at no charge — I thought I'd take this chance to tell you why I think you should get certified in SOLIDWORKS - or at least consider it.
For starters, let's cover what the SOLIDWORKS Certification program is in case I've already managed to lose anyone. SOLIDWORKS began offering knowledge-based tests many years ago, the prize of which is a certificate. It started as only a few certs, but has grown into 13 different certifications available to users ranging from the entry level Associate exam up to the all-knowing, all-powerful Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert (as well as many specialty certifications for things like Simulation and Sustainable Design). To earn your certification you must prove that you have the appropriate skills by completing an exam including knowledge and modeling based questions.
So why do these certifications matter?
While I cannot tell you that they come with prize money or a fancy present, they do help you in several ways, including a party in your honor. The reason SOLIDWORKS implemented the program was to create a standardized way of measuring a user’s skill level. This helps put users into competency rankings starting with “I’ve heard of SOLIDWORKS” to “I can model a varying pitch helical sweep in-context of an assembly”. Here's a list of why I think these certifications are important:
- Being certified is verifiable proof that you truly know how to use SOLIDWORKS and are proficient in it. Once certified your name can be put into a searchable registry of Certified Users for all the world to see.
- It’s a great resume booster. Rather than putting “I know how to use SOLIDWORKS” as a skill you can list “Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional (Certificate #0000000)”. Guess which one looks better?
- Already in a job, by taking a standardized test you prove well-roundedness with SOLIDWORKS - not just job specific skills that only benefit you at your current company.
- Certifications have been used for work incentives. Some companies require specific certifications to get a certain job. Others just ask their users to achieve certifications, sometimes tacking on a bonus when they do.
- How about bragging rights? We all do it, so why not have some credentials to back up the boasting. Get Joe on the other side of the wall to be quiet about that time you broke a reference by beating him to Expert level. The included logos with each test make great reminders on your business cards.
- Remember me mentioning a party? Well, when you make it out to the annual industry convention, SOLIDWORKS World, and get extra flash on your nametag for each of your certifications. Plus they throw special events for different certification levels, like last year’s behind the scenes tour and cocktail hour in PETCO Park baseball stadium for Certified SOLIDWORKS Experts. (It was awesome!)
- They can be free! If you are currently taking advantage of the many benefits of Subscription Services with your SOLIDWORKS license you qualify for several free test credits. Meaning you can get all the way to the Professional level without spending a penny. Want to know how? Follow the link and sign in with your SOLIDWORKS Customer Portal login to get your coupons: http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/subscription/Certification_Offers.html
Ultimately certifications are as important as we the users make them. You probably wouldn’t take your car to someone with an ad on the internet saying he knows how to work on cars. Instead, you'd likely go into a shop where they have ASE certifications hanging in the lobby. As SOLIDWORKS users we need to take advantage of the work SOLIDWORKS has done to create certifications and hold ourselves to a higher standard. If you put added value on certifications, you increase the value of your SOLIDWORKS license and fellow users.
Ready to get started climbing the SOLIDWORKS Certification ladder? Check out the official certification program here - http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/mcad-certification-programs.htm. Not ready to take a Certification Exam, because you'd like a little more training first? Talk to one of our Training Advisors or take a look at our training schedules.
Also, be sure to check out the rest of the Hawk Ridge Systems blog (like this one, about the top ten speed moves for the CSWP) as well as our YouTube channel for tips and tricks to help you pass the tests.