Solidworks Certification Levels – What are they and how to get one?

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Computer-aided design (CAD) is a highly versatile technology that allows the creation, analysis, and modification of three-dimensional designs. The ability to create CAD models is a highly sought-after skill in several industries such as infrastructure, industrial design, architectural design, medical prosthetics, and computer animation. For many technical professionals, developing CAD design expertise is a massive upgrade to their skillset and their marketability.

Solidworks is one of the most popular CAD software, selling over 3.5 million licenses worldwide. Although Solidworks CAD software has been designed to be easy to use, being able to prove your level of expertise on the software platform is still a rewarding experience which can open up a lot of opportunities. If you’re an experienced Solidworks user, then you might consider getting a Solidworks Certification.

What is Solidworks Certification?

A Solidworks Certification is proof of your cutting-edge skills in the Solidworks platform. Aside from proving your proficiency with the software, the certification also sets you apart from the rest of the crowd as a highly skilled designer or design engineer.

If you are looking for a job, having a Solidworks Certification can be a huge advantage when applying for companies who actively seek out these types of certification. Even if you are currently already holding a design job, a Solidworks Certification may be what it takes to move up the job ladder and for your career to advance.

How do I earn a Solidworks Certification?

A Solidworks Certification is earned by taking and passing a series of exams or knowledge tests. Depending on the level of certification you’re targeting, passing these tests can require a different number of steps, have different levels of complexity, and have varying benchmarks for passing. There are also variable costs for taking the certification exams, with higher level certifications costing more than their more basic counterparts.

The different Solidworks Certification levels

There are currently three levels of Solidworks Certification. The exams for each level cover different topics.

1. Level one – Certified Solidworks Associate (CSWA)

The basic Solidworks Certification level is the perfect entry point for high school or college students who have undergone training in Solidworks but have no professional experience. Having a CSWA proves that you have the fundamental knowledge and skills to create basic models and concepts in Solidworks. In some states, applying for a CSWA has even become mandated for university students with CAD-related courses. Required or not, having a CSWA is a good guarantee to future employers that you don’t need to be trained from the ground up and that you can be productive even on your first day of work.

The certification test for a CSWA is practical in nature. It covers basic Solidwork tasks such as 3D modeling, coming up with design concepts, and sustainable design principles. The test takes about three hours to complete, and you need to get a rating of at least 70% to pass.

Being the basic certification level, the CSWA is also the easiest to secure. Historically, about 65% of two-thirds of test-takers pass the exam and earn the CSWA. According to Solidworks, there are currently about 102,217 people who have a CSWA. Taking the CSWA will cost you $99.

2. Level two – Certified Solidworks Professional (CSWP)

The next level of Solidworks certification, earning a CSWP will test your more advanced CAD skills. Instead of a single overarching test, the CSWP is divided into three segments. You have the option of taking all three segments one after the other or separately. There is also no time limit on when you need to finish all three segments once you have started. The estimated total time needed to finish all three segments is just a little over 3 hours.

Each segment tests a different skill in Solidworks. Overall, earning the certification will require functional knowledge on creating fully parametric parts from drawings, modifying these parts, editing equations and parameters, and creating and modifying assemblies. You need to score at least 75% on each segment to earn the CSWP.

Only trained CAD users tend to sign up for the CSWP. This reflects on the passing rate of those who have taken the CSWP certification exams – 74%, which is even higher than the passing rate for the basic CSWA. There are currently about 32,328 CSWP holders according to Solidworks. Signing up for each of the CSWP segments will cost you $33 each. You may also opt to sign up for all of them at the same time for a total $99 price tag.

3. Level three – Certified Solidworks Expert (CSWE)

Earning the highest level of Solidworks certification certainly seems like a daunting and intimidating task. After all, you cannot simply sign up for the CSWE test. To be eligible to take the test, you must first already have the Level 2 certification. You also have to go through at least four of the five CSWE advanced topic exams. These are entirely separate exams, covering topics such as Sheet Metal, Weldments, Mold Tools, Surfacing, and Drawing Tools. To pass the advanced topic exams, you must have scored at least 75% in each one of them. Each advanced topic exam takes approximately 90 minutes to complete and costs $19.95.

It is only after passing the pre-requisite exams that you can take the comprehensive test for CSWE certification. Designed to be the most challenging exam offered by Solidworks, there is currently no sample exam provided for the comprehensive test. Solidworks provides a long list of topics that may be covered by the comprehensive test with no guarantees of which one will be included.

Taking the CSWE comprehensive test will cost you another $145. You must be able to answer 85% of the items correctly to pass and to earn the CSWE certification. Should you fail, you can only retake the comprehensive test after 90 days. True to the challenging requirements of the CSWE certification process, there are currently only about 2,339 CSWE certificate holders, according to Solidworks.

What’s the good of getting a Solidworks Certification?

As you’ve probably realized by now, getting any of the Solidworks Certifications will require a significant amount of effort, time, and money. Is it worth subjecting yourself to the stress? These are some of the benefits that Solidworks certificate holders get to enjoy:

1. Proof that you’re skilled with Solidworks

A Solidworks certificate is tangible proof of your level of skill with the Solidworks software platform. Instead of stating in your resume that you are merely proficient with Solidworks, a certification level accurately describes just how good you are. Moreover, being certified means that your name will be included Solidwork’s globally searchable registry of certified users.

2. Some companies require certifications for particular positions

Solidworks is such a widely adopted CAD platform that many companies consider it the standard technology for assessing the CAD-related skills of employees and applicants. The development of Solidworks certification has provided these companies with clear-cut requirements for some of their technical positions. This means that some job openings or positions may only be open to applicants with the appropriate level of Solidworks certification. Whether you’re looking for a new job or looking to climb up the career ladder in your current company, having a Solidworks certification can be a huge leg up from the competition.

3. You can attend the annual Solidworks World

Being Solidworks certified also means that you get an invite to the annual Solidworks World, a multi-day conference that gathers all the experts and Solidworks certificate holders. This annual event is a great opportunity from you to expand your skillset through the hundreds of technical sessions facilitated by the proverbial experts in their fields. This is also a great chance for you to form networks with like-minded professionals.

Aside from the annual conference, Solidworks also sends out invites to certificate holders for other exclusive events. It’s not all work and no play for Solidworks, as these events can range from technical seminars to cocktail parties and all-access baseball stadium tours. These events are seriously amazing and show just how far Solidworks will go to keep their community happily engaged.

4. Getting a certification can be free

Taking a certification test can be considerably expensive but here’s the secret: it’s possible to get certified without paying a single penny! If you have an existing Solidworks license and are signed up to any of their subscription services, then it’s possible that your service offers the benefit of a free certification process.

Final thoughts

In such a competitive world where software skills can be picked up easily, earning a formal certification can be a huge advantage. With the levels of Solidworks Certification, there is now a systematic way of determining the level of proficiency of each user with the Solidworks CAD platform. It will take a lot of training, time, and money to move up to the higher certification levels. However, there are also plenty of benefits, the biggest of which is the opportunity to apply to jobs or positions that require a specific level of CAD software skills. If you have any experience in working with Solidworks, then we strongly recommend that you consider starting the process of getting the Solidworks Certification.