The SOLIDWORKS Certification Program includes a dizzying number of certifications you can earn. They cover a wide range of the SOLIDWORKS family of products and areas of expertise, including Electrical and Mechanical Design, PDM, Simulation, CAM, Additive Manufacturing, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, and more. That’s a lot to wade through, so in this blog we’re just going to look at Mechanical Design Certifications from the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate (CSWA) to the Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert (CSWE.)
What is the SOLIDWORKS Certification Program, and Why Should I Care?
There are over 6 million SOLIDWORKS users worldwide. The vast majority don’t have any sort of official certification verifying their skill with the software. For those who want to stand out from the crowd, earning certifications is the way to go. Then you’re not saying you know SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systemes is saying you know SOLIDWORKS.
To earn a certification, you take a hands-on exam using SOLIDWORKS to solve modeling challenges. The exams are all timed. To pass you must reach the minimum passing score before the time limit runs out. If you fail, there’s a two-week waiting period before you can try again. That gives you time to practice and study, using what you learned from the attempt as the best possible study guide for the next one.
If you pass, the certification is yours! Not only that, it’s yours for life. You never have to retest to keep it current. Each certification comes with a unique Certificate ID, so your credentials can easily be confirmed in the 3DEXPERIENCE Certification Center. This proves you know your stuff at the level of the exam you passed. Not only does this assure employers and clients you know what you say you know, but it’s also a great benchmark for yourself. Pass or fail, you’ll know without bias where your skill level is at.
You also get a printable certificate and digital badge you can display wherever you like, such as on your LinkedIn page. And you can choose to be listed publicly in the Certified Users database for your state or country.
Taking a Certification Exam for Free!
To take an exam you need an exam voucher. These can be purchased but are also available for free as a benefit of SOLIDWORKS Subscription Service. For more information on the program, and detailed information about specific exams and how to take them, follow the links below.
SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Design Certifications: CSWA to CSWE
The diagram below includes a total of eight separate SOLIDWORKS certifications in the domain of Mechanical Design. The Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate (CSWA) and Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional (CSWP) are the core exams. Both cover the basics of modeling in SOLIDWORKS, and neither is a prerequisite of the other.
The CSWA exam has a 3-hour time limit with a minimum passing score of 70%. It covers sketching, dimensioning, creating features, patterns, materials, basic assembly modeling, and creating basic drawings. This certification is often earned by Mechanical Engineering students while in college. It is not a prerequisite to any other exam, so you can think of it as a stand-alone certification rather than a step along the path to higher level certifications.
The CSWP covers everything the CSWA covers, plus some more advanced tools and techniques such as using global variables and equations, configurations, solving parent-child conflicts, advanced assembly mates, etc. Those planning to go on to higher level certifications often start here, skipping the CSWA.
Rather than being a single exam, the CSWP is broken up into three segments, each with its own time limit and minimum passing score in the 70-75% range. In the past it was a single 3 hour and 20-minute exam, and if you failed, you’d have to take the whole thing again. Now you only need to retake segments you failed. Once you’ve passed all three, the CSWP certification is yours. The segments are:
- Segment 1 – Part Modeling – 70 minutes
- Segment 2 – Configurations – 50 minutes
- Segment 3 – Assembly Modeling – 80 minutes
From there you can move on to the five Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional Advanced (CSWPA) certifications. Each of these exams covers a different set of specialty tools and techniques. All are part of core SOLIDWORKS functionality, not add-in products. The minimum passing score is 75% for each, and the time limits vary.
- Drawing Tools (CSWPA-DT) – 100 minutes
- Mold Making (CSWPA-MM) – 2 hours
- Surfacing (CSWPA-SU) – 90 minutes
- Sheet Metal (CSWPA-SM) – 90 minutes
- Weldments (CSWPA-WD) – 2 hours
Once you’ve earned the CSWP plus at least four of the CSWPA certifications, you are eligible to attempt the Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert (CSWE) exam. Or, as I like to call it, the Final Boss. It has a 4-hour time limit, and a minimum passing score of 80%. It’s intended to be the most difficult exam of the lot and does not disappoint. It can include anything covered by the CSWP and the five CSWPA’s, plus a variety of lesser-known tools and features.
Now you should have a good understanding of what SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Design certifications are, what they’re for, and if certification is something you want to pursue. If you do choose to earn a certification, or collect them all, you’ll be in good company.
Only about 10% of SOLIDWORKS users have earned any of these certifications. Of those, ~70% have earned the CSWA, ~30% the CSWP, and ~1% the CSWE. So, no matter how you slice it, earning SOLIDWORKS Mechanical Design certifications will help you demonstrate your hard-earned skills, and stand out from the crowd.
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