Friday, January 20, 2012


Are you still on the fence about taking CSI’s CDT exam? There’s no doubt about it. Studying for the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) certification exams requires a substantial investment in your time (to study) and your money (to purchase the CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide, and for the exam registration fee).

But if you’re serious about being a part of the Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) industry, CSI certification is something you need.  CSI’s Construction Document Technologist (CDT)  certification shows that you understand, and are committed to, the AEC industry with all its quirks and complexity, and with all its constant change.

My experience: I haven’t taken the time to sift through decades of personal records to refresh my memory about when I took, and passed, the CDT exam. All I remember is that it was soon after the credential was available. I passed the Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) exam shortly thereafter. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually let both certifications lapse sometime in the late 80’s. I was busy with two small children and a demanding job. We moved from one home to another in 1985,  and I’m blaming an errant address change form for the slip-up.  Sometime thereafter, I came to my senses and passed both exams again, on the same day. Years passed before I got interested in the Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA) exam.  I took it in about 1998, and failed it by 1 point.  In 2002, I think, I took the CCCA exam again and passed it.

  • Why I decided to become CSI certified: I looked at CSI certification as essential to professionalizing the art, craft, specialty, or whatever you want to call it, of specification writing. People with all sorts of educational and business backgrounds wind up in the AEC business, and enrich it because of their diversity. The industry thus needs a common core, and CSI Certification provides it.
  • Toughest material I studied: I don’t think any of the material in any of the CSI Certification exams is hard to understand.  What is difficult, however, is to get back into the test-taking frame of mind. In addition to understanding the material, you have to be an extremely careful reader when taking the test. You need to understand some extremely fine distinctions between possible answers to the questions.
  • Who helped me to pass: I  first took the CDT exam before the Chicago Chapter had study groups, so I was pretty much on my own.
  • CSI Chapter Certification Program: I belong to the Northern Illinois Chapter now, and we haven’t had enough exam takers to enable us to offer a certification study group program in the last couple of years. If we get an avalanche of interest from this blog post, however, our Certification Chair Ken Moore and I might just be persuaded to offer a few webinar-style coaching events. If you’re interested, please say so in the comments to this blog post and Ken and I will get back to you. If we offer the coaching webinars, we will not limit attendance to members of the Northern Illinois CSI Chapter.
  • Why CSI Certification makes me a better choice for people who are hiring:  For reasons I’ve never really understood, lots of people in the AEC business run for cover when asked to deal with the written word. CSI Certification shows that I have the patience, and the confidence, to deal effectively with the critical written components of construction contract documents.

Why am I trying to talk you into taking the CDT exam?  For your own good, friend.

First, you’ll learn a lot just in the process of studying for the CDT. If your career is anything like mine has been, you learned a lot about how the AEC business works from the school of hard knocks, and from assorted mentors, buddies, cronies, sages, hangers-on, etc. But when you study for the CDT and read The CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of why industry roles, rights, and responsibilities are the way they are. Especially if you participate in a CSI Chapter certification study group, and get the benefit of the group’s camaraderie.

Second, the credential signifies to the world that you took the time and the trouble to learn about all those arcane contract and spec factoids. Nobody can flim-flam you about your rights and responsibilities under a construction contract. You read the book. You know how to navigate a 1000-page Project Manual and find what’s pertinent to you. Your colleagues - most of whom come down with the vapors when called upon to read anything, let alone write anything - will come to you to find and interpret specification provisions.

Third, although there are plenty of other professional credential programs out there, and they’re no doubt valuable, CSI certification has the clearest focus on construction documents. And the construction documents define the rights and responsibilities we in this industry live by every day.

So, just do it.  You know you need it!  Buy the CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide and register for the CDT exam.

Here’s a FREE opportunity to learn more about CDT certification, the gateway to the advanced CCS, CCCA, and CCPR certifications:  Mark your calendar now for CSI’s FREE CDT 101 Webinar on Wednesday, January 26, 2012 at 1pm CT.  Register for the webinar at   In this FREE webinar, speaker Lee Orosco, FCSI, CCS, will advise exam candidates on the benefits of CSI’s Construction Document Technologist (CDT) certificate program, and how to successfully prepare for the exam. This webinar will be accompanied by a tweetchat on Twitter.  Use hashtag #CSICertified during the webinar to chat with CSI members who have passed the CDT exam!

And here’s still more information about CSI Certification:

General CSI Certification Information:
Registration link:
·       Exams will be offered April 2 - April 28, 2012, in the U.S. & Canada.
·       Early registration deadline: February 2, 2012
·       Final registration deadline: March 2, 2012

CDT Information
General information about the CDT exam:
·       Cost Before Feb. 2: $235 (member) $370 (non-member)
·       Cost after Feb. 2: $295 (member) $430 (non-member)
·       Cost for qualified students: $105
The CDT exam is now based on the CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide:

Advanced Exam Information
Cost of an advanced exam:
-          Before Feb. 2:  $275 (member) $410 (non-member)
-          After Feb. 2: $340 (member) $475 (non-member)
CCS information:
-          Now based on the Construction Specifications Practice Guide (
CCCA information:
-          Now based on the Construction Contract Administration Practice Guide (
CCPR information:
-          This is the last year this exam will be based on the PRM (
You don’t have to be a CSI member to register for an exam – but if you join first, you get the member discount!

No comments:

Post a Comment