SOLIDWORKS Certification: Paying for it

I’ve done a session at SOLIDWORKS World for the last few years on Tips and Tricks to passing the CSWP exam. I have had some good success with it, filling the room each year and most years having enough on the waitlist to fill it again. My biggest concern was that I was only reaching the people that attend SOLIDWORKS World and a large part of my class each year were people that had just taken the exam and did not pass it. I cornered Richard Doyle one afternoon and asked him what he thought. You need to do a blog was his advice. Shortly after, and @SWCertGuy on Twitter was born. This was by far the best advice he has ever given me, and to be truthful, as a SWUG Leader, he has had to give me a lot of advice. Not only did it put me on a new level to reaching people that want to be certified, but it has made me some new friends in the SOLIDWORKS Community. From the start, Rachel Diane York, Deepak Gupta and Jeremy Regnerus were there to get me going. Later, I got to bend the ears of some of the greats like Rob Rodriguez, Daniel Herzberg, and Jeff Mirisola.

Below you will find the post that I think has the most potential to convince someone to become certified. If you like what you see here, there is more on my blog. I’ve posted my tips and tricks for passing the CSWP and as finals in colleges across the United States are kicking off, I have begun working my way through the CSWA.

Here is my blog post ‘Paying for It’. I hope it helps and I look forward to hearing from you on Twitter and my blog.

All the best,

‘Paying for it’

So, let’s tackle how to pay for your certification now. The cost for certifications runs from $19.95 for a specialty exam to $149 for the CSWE. The way I see it, you have 3 options for funding your certification endeavors. The pros are all the same. You get your certification paid for, but let’s look at the cons…

surprised boss

  1. Ask your boss to pay for it. We all know that for most bosses, the first thing going through their heads is what does the company get out of this? It’s not that this is a bad thing, that is simply their job. As an employee, you have to spin it to highlight the pros while addressing the cons. Explain why you think it will make you a better employee while addressing fears that you are going to use his money to justify a raise or pad your resume. Also, keep in mind that if your boss does pay for the exam, he is going to want to see the results. My boss knows that I am a CSWE, but he doesn’t know that I flunked my first attempt at CSWP. (My boss didn’t pay for any of my exams)

empty wallet

  1. Pay for it yourself. Ouch. The CSWE will cost you $327.80. That’s less than a class at community college and frankly, it’s a huge plus on your resume or your next job evaluation. In my opinion, it’s a small price to pay to put another bullet point on your resume or raise request. The question you have to ask is it worth it to you to pay that cost? Plus, if you pay for it, nobody needs to know you failed. Except your pocket book, that is. You’ll likely need to pay for another exam… (Guess what? I didn’t pay for any of my exams)

sw logo

  1. Get all your exams for free (this is what I did!). It takes longer. By my mental calculations, and keep in mind I have not changed my batteries lately, it should take you a little over a year. You can do it faster, but it would likely add some cost. So, let’s check this out… The certification team offers one free exam for the CSWA or CSWP and one free specialty exam every 6 months for Subscription Service Members. Your boss pays a subscription fee every year to SOLIDWORKS, the exams are included in this fee. All you have to do is get your subscription information and create an account using that info. I can’t post a direct link to this website because it requires a login, but, you can go to this webpage and on the right is a link to the offer. So, in the first 6 months, you just got your CSWA and let’s say SheetMetal paid for using the Subscription Service. Here is something every SOLIDWORKS user should know. SOLIDWORKS has user groups. What is a user group you ask? Well, it is a group of ordinary users that get together every couple of months to talk about SOLIDWORKS, socialize, win prizes and eat pizza. All the user groups got together at SOLIDWORKS World for our national meeting. It looked something like this. You can find a group near you at this website. The reason why I mention this is that if one of the certification guys are giving a presentation, you are usually treated to one free exam. When you find a user group, contact the leader to see if one of them are coming to their group or you can email them directly at and ask about their travel schedule. Let’s say you get a free Drawings Certification out of it. That’s $140 bucks you just saved. So, you wait until the Subscription Service offer renews, which happens in January and July, and you get your CSWP and Mold Tools exams for free. That’s another $120 you saved. Now, we wait again for the Subscription Service to reset and we get our last specialty exam, let’s say Weldments. We only saved $20, but hey, we are now ready for the big kahuna, the CSWE.

I’m going to come to a full stop with that. I said earlier that I have not paid for a single exam. What I should have said, is I have never paid cash for any exam. The reason I break from the excitement of the paragraph above is because there is a caveat that I need to explain. You can get free vouchers/coupons for all the above tests with the exception of the CSWE exam. There is no free ride for the general public on the CSWE train. But, Bryan, you said you didn’t pay for any exam… Well, I spoke about User Groups above. The SLUG is the best thing that ever happened to my career. I got some free training, I met some good friends, I was given some good food too. I’ve been in the leadership of our group since it started and I am currently the president. The reason I mention this is because there is a perk of being in the leadership of the group. You get a CSWE exam for free. So, for a little time investment in a SWUG, you can get all those benefits and your CSWE exam for free.

So, let me end with some other pointers on getting an exam for free. There are two other ways, but they both involve a trip to SOLIDWORKS World. In January, 2016, we are meeting in Dallas, TX. The first way is every year on the Sunday of the event, the Certification Team gives you the chance to take the CSWP exam for free. The second is if you attend my Tips and Tricks on passing the CSWP, you will get a voucher/coupon for a free CSWP exam.

The information here could save you some real money. If you have any questions, please post them. Next time, I’m going to discuss some general tips for taking the exams.

See you then,