What is the CSWP?
The Certified SolidWorks Professional (CSWP) certification is the mid level certification set by SolidWorks. The CSWP is a professional level certification that proves a higher level of competency in SolidWorks. The certification is achieved by passing a three part exam that covers more advanced mechanical design using solidworks.
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SolidWorks is a professional level CAD program that requires a high level of understanding to use. To help distinguish its user’s different skill levels, SolidWorks offers many certifications for its users, and uses a “progressive” certification system. This system has a series of “core” certifications that get progressively more advanced. SolidWorks certification starts with the CSWA which is a great certification for proving basic competency, and for starting the journey into SolidWorks certification. Once you’ve passed the CSWA exam, however, the next step is a huge leap in the complexity of SolidWorks Certification. Stepping from your first certification into the world of the Certified SolidWorks Professional exam, many things change. The article below takes a look at who should take the CSWP, How the CSWP exam is different than the CSWA, preparing for the CSWP, and what benefits come with the CSWP.
Are you ready for the CSWP?
Earning your CSWP is very different than the process for the CSWA. The CSWA is an entry level certification. It is not required that you acquire CSWA certification before you attempt to take the CSWP exam, but keep in mind that this certification serves as the next “step up” in SolidWorks certification program. Most people tend to acquire their CSWA before attempting to get the CSWP certification. If you decide to take the CSWP exam, it is highly recommended that you have a few years of experience working with SolidWorks in an industry setting. The skills you learn on the job are a valuable part of test preparation. Regarding preparation, SolidWorks recommends four different training courses including one on Advanced Modelling and one on Advanced assembly. These recommended classes would be a great way to prepare to take the CSWP, but they also aren’t the only way. In our opinion, anyone preparing to take the CSWP exam should, in addition to having a few years of experience under their belt, be sure to complete all of the SolidWorks tutorials on CSWA/CSWP prep. These can be accessed from the home page or through the help tab as shown below.
According to the SolidWorks certification catalog entry for the CSWP (link at the end of the article), the user should also be familiar with all the following categories.
- Sketch entities – lines, rectangles, circles, arcs, ellipses, centerlines
- Sketch tools – offset, convert, trim
- Sketch relations
- Boss and cut features – extrudes, revolves, sweeps, lofts
- Fillets and chamfers
- Hole Wizard
- Linear, circular, and fill patterns
- Linked dimensions
- Feature conditions – start and end
- Multi-body parts
- Feature scope
- Mass properties
- Move/Delete face
- Inserting components – new and existing
- Standard mates and advanced mates
- Reference geometry – planes, axis, mate references
- In-context features
- Interference detection
- Suppression states
- Move/Rotate component
- Assembly features
- Collision detection in an assembly
- External references
- Design tables
- Dimensions and model items
Without a doubt, this list is far more daunting than the list for the CSWA. We recommend working down this list and using all of these features to ensure that you are familiar with how they work and the options that they provide. Get as much hands-on experience with these tools and features as possible. For features that you don’t use as frequently in the workplace, create a model of your own design that will require you to use the feature. You may even find it valuable to attempt to create a model of something without knowing what features you will need yet. Experience like this is the most valuable for becoming an advanced SolidWorks user, and will definitely help you prepare for the CSWP. When you think that you might have the requisite knowledge, you can move on to the final preparation tool provided by SolidWorks. There is a CSWP practice exam provided on the certification catalog CSWP webpage that you can take to help test your readiness. This test is also available through the SolidWorks Virtual Tester client. This test should be taken under the proposed time limit to simulate actual test conditions. If you are able to pass the practice test with a good score, than it is a good sign that you may be ready to start the CSWP process. As always be sure to review any questions that you missed and work out the correct answers as this will be invaluable for preparation. We also highly recommend that you become familiar and comfortable using the SolidWorks search box to search for commands. The CSWP covers a very high number of topics, and it is likely that you will be required to use a command or feature that you don’t frequently use in your day to day experience. Using the search function to bring up any command quickly can save you valuable time while taking this test. Lastly, if you don’t feel confident in your ability to pass the CSWP examinations, and you haven’t taken the CSWA exam yet, it may be worth achieving that certification first. The CSWA is simpler, and if you pass it with ease it should give you more confidence about your ability to take the next exam.
Taking the CSWP
Taking the CSWP is a bit more complicated than taking the CSWA. It is a much longer test, and, to make it more accessible, SolidWorks has structured it in three parts. Each of these three parts covers slightly different material. The exact breakdown can be found on the CSWP page of the SolidWorks certification catalog. Each portion of the exam is treated individually. Once you have passed one portion of the exam you will not have to retake it, even if you fail a different portion of the exam. Like the CSWA exam, the CSWP exam is taken through the Virtual Tester test client that can be downloaded from the SolidWorks Virtual Tester website (link at the end of this article). As with the CSWA, each portion of the exam also requires its own specific exam credit for each attempt that you can purchase through the test client, and requires a minimum fourteen day waiting period between attempts of that section. You must pass all three individual sections to qualify as a CSWP. Each section will show up on your SolidWorks virtual tester account after you have passed it, so keeping track of your scores is easy. Once you’ve taken the first exam, you have as long as you want to take the next two exams. You may also take the three exams in any order you wish. Keep in mind that a practice test is only available for the first segment of the test, but if you pass the practice test, and have studied as well for the other two segments, then you should be well prepared. Taking the CSWP exams can be daunting, but if you make sure to set aside enough time, take the test in a distraction free environment, and, of course, make sure that you’re well prepared, then you should find that you’re more than up to the task.
Becoming a CSWP
Once you’ve passed all three portions of the CSWP exam than you have officially achieved the rank of Certified SolidWorks Professional. But what do you gain from achieving this level of certification, and how is it any different than the CSWA? Much like the CSWA, your CSWP certification can be displayed on the online certification directory, and has a digital certificate and icons that you can download. Also like the CSWA, the CSWP proves a certain level of skill in SolidWorks software, but, unlike the CSWA, the CSWP is a professional certification. It shows a level of skill in SolidWorks that is appropriate for a professional workplace. In addition, the CSWP is also the level of certification at which SolidWorks starts to offer other benefits. At the time of this writing, anyone certified as CSWP or higher can receive a discount to attend the “SolidWorks World” conference. Additionally, in the past SolidWorks has reached out to current CSWP certificate holders to help provide models for new test questions. Becoming a CSWP is a great accomplishment for a SolidWorks user, and achieving it can be very rewarding.
The CSWP is often the first step into
professional certifications in SolidWorks. It provides a higher level of
validation than any of the exams that can be taken before it and by necessity
it requires more preparation as well, but it comes with far more reward. Being
certified as a professional level user by the company that creates the software
is quite and accolade, and the other benefits sometimes offered by SolidWorks
can be well worth “the price of admission.” Stepping into the world of
professional certification is a satisfying journey to undertake, and the CSWP
is only the first step. We hope that this article has demystified the CSWP for
you a little, and hopefully you’ll soon be certified! Just be prepared, because
once you’ve become a Certified SolidWorks Professional, you’ll have your eyes
set on your next exam before you know it!
Trevor Holloway is a mechanical engineer and CAD expert. He is certified in SolidWorks at the expert level (CSWE), and has years of experience in designing products for manufacture.
Trevor Holloway is driven by turning ideas into reality through engineering. He consistently seeks to push the limits of his skills and expand his knowledge base with the intent to innovate and solve problems. He enjoys viewing the engineering process holistically, from design to implementation, and always seeks to take a hands on approach. He is certified by SolidWorks as a SolidWorks Experts (CSWE).