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You Don’t Have 20 Years of Industry Experience?!?? The CDT® Is the Next Best Thing

By Michael Riscica, CSI, CDT posted 02-24-2023 02:14 PM


Have you ever been in a project meeting and felt hesitant to ask a question because you should probably know the answer?

Have you ever felt like you lack experience or basic project knowledge to help you do your job?

Have you ever felt nervous before talking with clients, contractors or consultants because you might not know how to answer their questions?

Becoming CDT® certified could be the solution for you.


I wish I Had Known About the CDT Sooner…

At the beginning of my career, I felt insecure about my practical skills for a long time, even after graduating from an accredited school of architecture with pretty good grades and several years of office experience working on real projects.

My lack of experience and knowledge caused a significant amount of stress, anxiety, and self-doubt. At times, I felt like an imposter for 40 hours a week. Yet I wanted to learn, help, and get better at contributing to the projects and my firm. 

Feeling this way and looking for answers pointed me towards studying to become a Licensed Architect, which became my solution. By the time I completed that goal 4.5 years later,  I finally felt that I understood how the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Owner (AECO) industry works, how to better contribute to my projects, and how to do my job as an architect.

But I want you to know that there is a much faster way to acquire this baseline AECO industry knowledge. It can help you get up to speed, level up your career, and make you a better professional.

And no, you don’t have to become a Licensed Architect.  This powerful resource is available to EVERYONE in the AECO industry, not just the architects.

An Accelerated Path to Professional Confidence: Become CDT Certified!

The Construction Documents Technologist (CDT®) certification was created by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) as a way to help all AECO professionals more effectively contribute to the success of their projects. 

While it may initially seem complex, studying for the CDT certification primarily focuses on just 2 key components:

  1. Phases of a Project - Understanding what is happening during each phase. The phases begin when the building is just an idea, through designing it, constructing it, using it, and then--at the end of the building's life--removing it.

  2. People - Understanding who is involved. How do they contribute to the project? What are the roles, relationships, and responsibilities of everyone who contributes to the project?

There are more details to the CDT, but I found these 2 key components of the CDT certification to be the most important and fascinating. 

Even Licensed Architects Can Benefit from the CDT

I became CDT certified several years after being a Registered Architect and found the process of studying to be very enjoyable. I have never seen AECO project management information so clearly organized and well-written. 

The CDT also taught me a lot about how to be a better architect by having a greater understanding of how everyone else contributes to a project.   Unlike other popular industry certifications, I found what I learned studying for the CDT was applicable to EVERY single design or construction project I work on. 

I truly wish I had acquired this knowledge from the CDT certification at the beginning of my architecture career, not in the middle.

This is why I strongly encourage all AECO emerging professionals to become CDT certified as soon as possible. 

There's nothing you can do about not having 20 years of experience, but getting a textbook education about how a project works can help you contribute more effectively to every project and move your career forward.

I now firmly believe that EVERYONE who participates in design or construction projects at any capacity needs this basic education about how a project is executed.

How Do I Learn More About CDT Certification?

In recent years, the CDT has had several updates, so it's important you have the most up-to-date information.  The best place to get this is from CSI’s website at: You’ll see that CSI also offers several other certifications as well; however, starting with the CDT is the best way to set yourself up for success. 

The free CDT Handbook for Exam Candidates, explains all the “housekeeping” information about CDT certification, including what it is, how long the exam is, what it's about, how to schedule, etc. 

The CDT exam is only offered twice a year during the spring or the fall. The testing window during these times is only for a few weeks.  So depending on your schedule, the timing of CDT certification will require some planning. 

The last important step is to get yourself a copy of the most recent edition of the Project Delivery Practice Guide (PDPG). This is the only textbook you’ll need to prepare for the CDT. If it's not in this book, it's not on the exam. You will quickly see the value of the PDPG by how well-written and organized it is. I still find myself referencing the PDPG regularly to help with projects. 

Enjoying the Benefits of a CDT Certification: 

You Can Do it. 

CDT certification can easily be achieved by every busy AECO Professional. I hope you take advantage of this fantastic professional growth opportunity.