To be specific

Certified CDT professionals enhance career growth in AECO

The Construction Documents Technology (CDT) certification provides a comprehensive program of study for anyone seeking to enhance and demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in writing, interpreting, enforcing, and managing construction documents.

Here, three architecture, engineering, construction, and owner (AECO) professionals share how earning this valuable certification informed and impacted their careers.

James Sandoz CSI, CDT, CCS, AIA.

“Studying for and passing the CDT exam made all the difference in the world for my career in architecture. It is what eventually led me to become a specification writer. I took the exam early in my career when I was still drawing stair details and struggling with opening details in exterior walls. I realized there was much more to my profession than ‘lines on paper.’ I worked in a small office at the time and was soon reviewing submittals, processing substitution requests, and even evaluating applications for payment. By passing the CDT exam, the knowledge I gained made all that easier and more meaningful.

“The best thing about the knowledge imparted by mastering the material for the CDT is it is beneficial—not only for architects and engineers—but for everyone in the AECO industry, including administrative personnel. I worked at medium-sized firm once where there were four people who held the CDT certificate. It was three administrative assistants and me. They all performed their duties with the greatest competence and efficiency. Fortunately, while I was with that firm, I saw six intern architects and interior designers also obtain their CDT certification.”

—James Sandoz CSI, CDT, CCS, AIA

Tyler Sweeney CSI, CDT.

“Coming from outside the construction industry, the rigorous CDT preparation provided a ton of value for me and my career, and I am grateful for what it personally provided me. Professionally, it provided a level high of confidence to understand and anticipate my customer’s needs and requirements. Personally, the preparation was a highlight, since I was required to master a subject on my own time and prove it. Achievement felt like validation, that I belonged in a select and collegial team. I recommend the process to anyone who will listen because of what it has provided me.”

—Tyler Sweeney CSI, CDT

Melissa Giles, CDT.

“I’ll be honest, I did not pass the CDT my first time. However, I think failing helped me 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. To anyone who has failed it and felt like giving up, I would say to keep pushing and do not give up because it is what helped me.

“What stood out to me about the exam was 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. It is because of this reason, the exam process gave me the knowledge and experience I will take with me throughout my career as I take more CSI certification exams.”

—Melissa Giles, CDT

Peter Kray is a content strategist with CSI. He can be reached at


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