Embracing the CDT certification

Randy Nishimura, CSI, CCS, AIA
Change has always been a constant in architecture and construction, but its pace is accelerating. Successfully keeping up with all the latest developments is contingent on how quickly we adapt in an environment buffeted by forces largely beyond our control. Survival of the fittest is a maxim always in play.

Another constant in the design industry is the importance of the Four Cs—clear, concise, correct, and complete construction documentation and communications.

Architecture and construction increasingly depend on the effective conveyance of design intent. They likewise rely on the clear definition of project responsibilities and roles, detailed by the forms of agreement most widely used in construction projects. Owners, architects, engineers, specifiers, general contractors, subcontractors, and construction materials suppliers must all understand project delivery options, standard forms of agreement, and the means for organizing drawings and specifications.

Change and the Four Cs are compatible. A key to managing the former and mastering the latter is knowledge—specifically, fluency with the lingua franca of our industry. Knowledgeable employers highly value those who understand the language of construction, its underlying principles and terminology, and the critical relationships between all participants in any design and construction undertaking. Employees who thoroughly understand this language not only survive, but are more likely to thrive.

How can you demonstrate your construction knowledge and competence to stand out from the crowd? One of the best ways is to achieve CSI’s Construction Documents Technologist (CDT) status.

Developed decades ago to provide training for architects, contractors, contract administrators, specifiers, and manufacturers’ representatives, CDT has become the cornerstone for all CSI certification programs: Certified Construction Specifier (CCS), Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA), and Certified Construction Product Representative (CCPR).

Passing the CDT examination means becoming fluent with construction project processes and communication; it means demonstrating professional commitment, credibility, and reliability to your employer, colleagues, and clients. Obtaining CDT status benefits you, your company, and your customers. Getting it also means the privilege of adding “CDT” after your name on your business card and resume.

In some respects, I regard the value of the CDT as analogous to that of a liberal arts degree, in that both provide a foundation for more advanced learning. I became a CDT back in 1989, and achieved my CCS status a couple of years later. There is no doubt in my mind studying for and passing both examinations has served me very well. What I learned provided me with a solid knowledge base on which I have relied throughout my career. I know I am a much better architect than I might have been without the benefit of those two certification programs. I truly believe this knowledge equipped me with the ability to better cope with the accelerating changes in our industry by ensuring I first thoroughly grasped the time-tested fundamentals of construction documentation and communications.

I highly encourage anyone curious about CDT certification to learn more about its value. Ask other CDTs or check out CSI’s YouTube channel for informational webinars about its certification programs. Each webinar covers the requirements and resources for exam preparation and study. Many local CSI chapters also offer educational courses to help those interested prepare for the examinations.

As the saying goes, knowledge is power. It provides a competitive edge. Give a boost to your knowledge about construction documents and communication by becoming a Construction Documents Technologist. The CDT certificate’s value is beyond calculation.

Registration for the spring exam cycle opens this month. Visit www.csiresources.org for more information.

Randy Nishimura, CSI, CCS, AIA, is a senior associate with Robertson/Sherwood/Architects pc in Eugene, Oregon. A 28-year veteran of CSI and a past-president of the Willamette Valley Chapter, he currently co-chairs the chapter’s Certification Committee. Nishimura frequently blogs on topics of interest to CSI and American Institute of Architects (AIA) members at www.sworegonarchitect.blogspot.com. He can be reached at rnishimura@robertsonsherwood.com.

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