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How I Earned My CDT®: Melissa Giles

By CSI HQ posted 05-07-2021 10:18


The Construction Documents Technology (CDT®) certification provides a comprehensive program of study for anyone seeking to enhance and demonstrate knowledge of writing, interpreting, enforcingand managing construction documents. It is a valuable resource for project architects, contractors, contract administrators, material suppliers, and manufacturers’ representatives, all of whom are realizing the advantages of being Construction Documents Technologists.

Here, recently successful CDT candidate Melissa Giles discusses her career in construction and shares her perspective on what it took to earn this elite certification.

Can you provide an overview of your career, and why you chose to work in this industry?
I am a Specification Writer for LS3P. I initially chose to work in this industry because that’s what my sister did, and she was building an amazing career out of it. So when I decided to go back to college, I wanted to give the construction program a try… and I fell in love with it. I’m very passionate about what I do.


What prompted you to earn your CDT?
I’m a Spec Writer, so having this certification is one of the first steps in being an official specifier, right? Honestly, I thrive for knowledge. Not only about the industry, but especially about all things specs. So I felt that this certification would not only give me that knowledge, but also give me the initials that says I do.


How did you study/prepare for the exam?
I’ll be honest, I did not pass the CDT my first time. However, I think failing it helped me to pass it because I then knew what to focus on when studying. I was also in college when I passed the CDT exam so I was already used to studying and just applied the same study practices to this exam that I knew worked for me in college. To anyone that has failed it and feeling like giving up, I would say to keep pushing and don’t give up because that’s what helped me!


What in particular about the exam process stands out for you?
This was my first time taking any kind of exam like this so it was definitely a learning experience. What stood out to me about the exam in particular is how there could be more than one right answer, and you have to give the best right answer so you really have to know the information rather than just remembering definitions. Because of that, the exam process gave me knowledge and experience that I believe I will take with me throughout my career as I take more CSI certification exams.


Were there any surprising, or unexpected methods or preparation that helped you achieve success?
Well like I said before, I didn’t pass the CDT the first time. It took me a lot of trial and error, talking to my fellow specifiers, and thinking outside of the box to pass the CDT exam.


How did your professional and personal community support you?
They helped tremendously! The other Specification Writers at LS3P gave me a lot of tips and tricks on studying that ultimately lead to my passing of the exam. In addition, my Construction Engineering Technologies program at school received a grant for some students to take the CDT exam for free so I received financial support as well!


How do you feel this will impact your future in the industry and inform the work you do?
The CDT certification is something that I will take with me throughout my entire career in many ways. The exam gave me the basic knowledge and experience that I needed to be a Spec Writer, and to pass future exams like the CCS.


Is there anything else you would have liked me to ask you?
I think the only other comment I have is about the CSI team. They helped me a lot throughout the entire process with any questions that I had. Monica Occhetti (of CSI) always reached back out to me with any and all questions that I had, and showed a lot of support towards me before and after I passed!