500,000 Certified Users: A Program That Has Changed the Lives of Many

I’m very proud to announce that on February 8th, 2021, we achieved the milestone of 500,000 Certified Users.

A number of this magnitude certainly provide the opportunity to extract all sorts of fun and interesting numbers, and I’ve run some reports in order to provide some of those below.  But throughout the life of the SOLIDWORKS Certification Program we have always focused on the value that the certifications hold for the users who have earned them.

Something that you may not expect to hear is that no one on my team is actually given a numerical goal in regards to how many certifications we issue in a year.  We do, of course, have an idea of what kind of numbers to expect each year, but that’s mainly so we can plan what we’ll need for technology needs behind the scenes.

One of the best parts of our job is getting emails from people letting us know how having one of our certifications helped them.  Emails from students telling us that they were able to get an interview that led to a job offer because they had a CSWP, as well as emails from out of work engineers telling us that the certification, they have helped them in the same way.  And of course, we also get emails from engineering managers and employees letting us know how earning certifications have helped them improve productivity.  So, to the 500,000 of you, thank you for being part of our not-so-little family!

I’d also like to say a huge thank you to the people that have been integral to reaching this milestone.  To my predecessors Mark D, Dave P, and Jeremy L, thanks for building such a strong foundation for us to continue build on.  To Mie and Mattias from our technology vendor Tangix, your creativity and desire to provide us the most efficient tools possible not only changed the way we delivered our exams, it’s also what we’re able to use to keep expanding.

To the internal team at SOLIDWORKS, from marketing, to the subscription team, the events team for letting us participate in the World Conference every year, and the executive team, thank you for being a part of this achievement.  To my boss Ian, thanks for your continued support and guidance and always focusing on the continued success of the program.  Finally, to my team who are without a doubt the key component of our success, a big thanks as well.  Avelino, Daniel, Yannick, and Junko; it’s a pleasure getting to work with you every day.

Note: When composing this post, the more I listed out the key events I wanted to cover, the longer the post got!  So, if you’d like to read a bit about the things that got us to 500,000, then continue reading below!

A look back

In 1998 when the SOLIDWORKS Training Program was expanding along with the rapid adoption of SOLIDWORKS Desktop software, a need arose to validate that people taking the training were actually learning something.  In late 1998, the very first  certified SOLIDWORKS Professional (CSWP) Certification was issued.

For the next eight years CSWP would grow to become something of a brand name in the SOLIDWORKS Community.  It was an exclusive group to be in, and if you attended SOLIDWORKS World, you even got to attend a private event open only to other CSWPs in attendance at the conference.

In 2006 we were seeing the impact that earning a CSWP Certification had on the careers of those that had earned it.  We quickly understood that providing a similar certification to students around the world could help them greatly once they finished their degree, and began to pursue a career in industry.  Out of this, the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate (CSWA) certification was launched.

At the that time, the CSWP exam was very costly, and you had to schedule a time and day to take it at one of our reseller offices.  You also had to wait a day for the results to arrive.  If we were going to introduce a certification meant for anyone, anywhere in the world, then accessibility to our program would need to be truly global.  So, we launched our online certification program.

Accessibility not only included access to exams 24 hours a day, every day of the year, we also needed to lower the cost of taking exams.  In addition to reducing the price of the CSWP exam by 80%, we launched an education provider program that allowed schools on subscription to be the delivery method and proctor for exams at their school.  We now had the foundation to grow as much as we wanted.

2007 through 2010 saw the addition of our first “Advanced Topic” exams where we offered exams focused on specific parts of the software.  In this case, it was the Sheet Metal exam.  The list of Advanced Topic exams continued to expand to include the five different exams available today.

In 2010 we added a new level of certification called Expert.  The CSWE, as it came to be known, was different from other exams in a few new ways.  It was the first exam to have prerequisites in order to be able to even take it.  It also took a different approach to modeling challenges in that the exam focused on using a variety of tools and features to solve a question, instead of questions focused on different features.

In 2019 we introduced the second Expert-level exam focused on Simulation.  In 2014 we said goodbye to the CSWP Event at SOLIDWORKS World, and introduced the CSWE Event, which remains as the exclusive annual event at 3DEXPERIENCE World each year.

As we move on from half a million certified users, we’ll continue to focus on offering the best-in-class certification program in the CAD industry.  We’ve already passed 5,000 certifications for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works Portfolio Roles that we have created and released exams for, and the growth rate for these exams are outpacing the growth of our legacy desktop exams back when they were new.

Onward to 1 Million!

Some fun stats:

  •        Our database contains nearly 2.6 million unique session records
  •        The first certification to ever be issued was CSWP on October 22, 1998
  •        The day with the highest number of sessions launched ever occurred on October 31, 2019
  •        On October 31, 2019 2,744 exam sessions were launched. Note: On that day an exam was launched somewhere in the world just about every 30 seconds!
  •        The SOLIDWORKS Certification program currently offers 19 different exams
  •        We currently offer 7 exams that cover Roles from the 3DEXPERIENCE Works Portfolio
  •        Our Partner Certification Program includes nearly 30 different exams, many which require annual recertification
  •        We have an exam based on internally developed training on how to compose content for our Knowledge Base that must be passed before someone from our technical support staff can begin adding content to it
  •        The exam with the greatest number of certifications issued is the CSWA exam with just over 325,000 certifications
  •        The person on the certification team with the longest tenure at SOLIDWORKS is Yannick with 20 years total
  •        The person on the certification team with the longest tenure on the team itself is Avelino with just over 12 years
  •        It took 18 years to get to 250,000 Certified Users
  •        It took just over 4 years to double that number and reach the 500,000 Certified Users mark

You can learn more about how you can particpate in the SOLIDWORKS Certification program by reading this blog or by visiting the SOLIDWORKS Certification Center by clicking here.

Mike Puckett

Senior Manager, Worldwide Certification Program, SOLIDWORKS