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SolidWorks Certification: What Is It?

Kristóf Kalocsai
Nov 8, 2019

Looking to rise up as a CAD expert? Join the thousands of engineers and designers taking advantage of SolidWorks certification.

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SolidWorks Certification No Introduction Needed

Flow planning in SolidWorks
Flow planning in SolidWorks (Source: Javelin Tech)

SolidWorks is among the most popular computer-aided design (CAD) software tools available, and it’s used in a wide array of industries. Mechanical engineering, product design, 3D animation, machinery, and aviation engineering are just a few examples of the many fields that make use of this program, and according to some, it’s considered the industry standard in a number of disciplines.

However, not even the smartest program can help you without people who know how to use it, so knowledge of most CAD programs is a desirable skill on the job market. So much so that mere claims of software proficiency on one’s resume often ring hollow for hiring agents, nowadays.

Many software companies have picked up on this trend and started offering certifications that test the knowledge of users and provide a standard assessment of skill to help employers. This article should help familiarize you with the certification process, and see if proving your skills this way is right for you.


SolidWorks Certification Let's Talk Cost

Spending money to make money
Spending money to make money (Source: Raouf Belal)

As we’ve mentioned above, getting this certificate will cost you some time and money. As for the latter, the individual exams are not horribly expensive. Of the three different levels available, the first two, at the associate and professional level, will cost you $99 plus taxes. The expert level exam is a bit more pricey, $149 per attempt, and you will also have to complete the professional certification plus four out of five advanced topic exams, which are $19.95 each.

You’ll need a computer with a stable internet connection to take the exam. In the description of each certification, you can also find the earliest version of the software that you’ll need to pass.

In terms of time, the associate and professional exams usually take about three hours, while the expert exam takes four hours. If you fail an exam, you can try again for the same fee, within 14-90 days, depending on the type of exam you selected.

All of that said, your biggest time investment is likely to be preparing for the challenge.

There are endless options for preparation, ranging from free YouTube videos to expensive professional classroom training courses. Whichever you choose, you may first want to take a look at SolidWorks’ own e-learning platform, which offers free training material as well as learning paths to help you select the most crucial topics for the exam type you chose.


SolidWorks Certification Benefits of Certification

Will you rocket to the top?
A simple rocket model in SolidWorks (Source: SolidWorks)

In the most literal interpretation, you’ll receive a digital certificate in an e-mail. Once you’ve passed the exam, your certification is valid and has no expiration.

Apart from a yearly SolidWorks conference, there’s no “secret club” of certified members. While there are many job adverts for which having one is considered a plus, it’s not common that you’d need it just to be considered.

That said, taking the exam is far from useless. While it’s no guarantee that you’ll land the job of your dreams, you have a much better chance of getting a face-to-face meeting and making an impression. For example, at Disney Parks and Resorts, you can expect at least an interview with the appropriate level of certification, which is a lot more than most people get who send their CVs.

If you’re hunting for a new job, having the certificate is also helping those that are recruiting you. Not only can they be more certain that your CV contains skills you actually have, but they can spare the cost and effort of testing you themselves. Though you shouldn’t bank on the laziness of others to land a job, it might just be the edge you need over other candidates.

Another reason is a psychological one. Choosing to hone your skills and taking exams on your own initiative implies character traits that are usually desirable in the workplace. A certificate is not only a sign of skill, but of ambition, diligence, a willingness to sacrifice for long-term goals, and perseverance until you reach them.


SolidWorks Certification Associate

Learn to know your way around the simpler things
Learn to know your way around the simpler things (Source: CAD CAM Tutorial)

To become a Certified Solidworks Associate (CSWA), you must demonstrate a basic understanding of design principles and skilful use of the software. This level of certification also has an academic version, as many universities require or advise their students to pass the SolidWorks exam as part of their education.

There are special CSWA exams available that focus on certain toolboxes or uses of SolidWorks. The categories are Additive Manufacturing, Electrical, Simulation, and Sustainability. These special exams are cheaper at $19.95, usually take 60 minutes, and have varying passing grades. As with all types of exams, their exact specification can be found in the certification catalogue.

Having this certificate tells employers that they won’t have to train you from scratch, and that you’re able to undertake a variety of tasks immediately after they employ you.

Properties of the CSWA Mechanical Design Certificate:

  • Exam time: 3 hours
  • Minimum passing grade: 70%
  • Retest wait period: 14 days
  • Price: $99 + tax

SolidWorks Certification Professional

Become capable of complex design tasks
Become capable of complex design tasks (Source: SolidWorks)

The Certified Solidworks Professional (CSWP) is the advanced level examination. Certificate holders have proven their ability to design and analyze parametric parts and moveable assemblies using a variety of complex features in SolidWorks.

An academic version is also available on this level, as is the special exam on Simulation. Added options are the certifications for the CAM tool and Model-Based Design for $49.95.

Passing this exam tells employers that you have a thorough understanding of a range of advanced software functions and applications.

The professional exam consists of three segments, all of which have to be completed to pass the exam. However, the segments don’t have to be completed all at once or in any specific order. They can be purchased separately, so not all segments have to be taken again if one fails. The segments are between 50 and 80 minutes long, are focused on parts drawing, configurations, and assembly creation.

Properties of the CSWP Mechanical Design Certificate:

  • Exam time: 3 hours 20 minutes (all segments together)
  • Minimum passing grade: 229 out of 318 points (all segments together)
  • Retest wait period: 14 days
  • Price: $99 + tax

SolidWorks Certification Expert

Certified experts can solve almost any design challenge
Certified experts can solve almost any design challenge (Source: engineering.com)

A Certified Solidworks Expert (CSWE) has the highest level certificate the program has to offer. Those that pass the exam have proven to be able to solve almost any design task in Solidworks presented to them, and possess a thorough understanding of all advanced functions of the software.

Besides the academic version, a special exam in Simulation is available for $149.

People with this level of skill can be expected to tackle almost any challenge at their workplaces and to be an authority their colleagues can turn to for help.

Gaining the CSWE certificate is quite the undertaking. In order to even attempt the exam, you must have passed the professional level test, and 4 out of 5 advanced topic exams available. These are Drawing Tools, Mold Making, Sheet Metal, Surfacing, and Weldments, and each costs $19.95, takes between 90 minutes and 2 hours, and has a passing grade of 75%.

After passing all of these tests, you may take the CSWE exam, which has the following properties:

  • Exam time: 4 hours
  • Minimum passing grade: 80%
  • Retest wait period: 90 days
  • Price: $149 + tax

SolidWorks Certification What Else?

There are many options to prove your skill
There are many options to prove your skill (Source: Eurosolid)

Of course, other companies offer opportunities to be certified in the use of their software. Autodesk, maker of the popular design software AutoCAD, also has a certification program, however, it’s only available through training centers. You may choose between user and professional level exams, but the exact details may vary based on the certification provider.

Similar is the case with Catia. While learning materials are provided, the company’s certifications can be gained through their partners.

Of course, there are countless websites offering courses and certifications upon their completion. If you wish to show commitment to self-learning, these may be good for you. If you’re a designer looking for something more serious to back up your claim to a job or a better position, SolidWorks certifications are accessible options to help you.

(Lead image source: sphsengineering.com)

License: The text of "SolidWorks Certification: What Is It?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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