CSI: Where Have You Been All My Life?
I learned about the benefits of CSI (www.csinet.org) only recently, a little over a year ago when engaged in conversation with another practitioner on AIA KnowlegeNet. In response to a question I’d asked, she explained to me the importance of earning her Master’s Degree in Sustainable Design– besides already being NCARB certified and LEED AP accredited. Additionally, she shared:
“I’m also a CSI CDT; meaning I took the time 111 years ago, to understand how a good legal set of contract documents are put together and administered. So, as you can tell, I have a lot of education but it’s all because I thought it was important to broaden my understanding of this complex industry at that time in my career; I didn’t do it to add initials after my name!”
Upon hearing that, I wished I would have known about CSI’s CDT exam during my internship (did it even exist back then? I wondered…)- surely, it would have made a huge difference in my approach to putting together a set of working drawings. Thus, the importance of self-leadership in one’s career at EVERY stage!
Since then, I’ve joined the CSI group on LinkedIn and was welcomed by Joy Davis, CSI’s Communication & Web Community Senior Manager (email@example.com), who was happy to answer my questions and point me toward finding the resources I needed. I became a member of CSI and signed up for the CDT exam held last fall; however, after buying the CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide (which is 466 pages long), and considering my heavy project schedule at the time, I realized I would need to allow myself more focused study time (probably 2 uninterrupted months’ worth) prior to sitting for the exam.
CSI is On Twitter:
I’m very active on Twitter and have met a lot of friends there who are strong advocates for CSI and the architecture profession. Recently, those of us who also blog have been asked by Joy Davis to help promote awareness of CSI’s next CDT exam which CSI will be offering between April 2nd to April 28th, 2012 in the US and Canada; the final deadline to register is March 2nd (with Early registration by February 2nd, 2012).
CSI Testimonials: Read All About How CSI Has Benefitted Others ~ CSI Members Share Their Personal Stories ~
To better understand and communicate the value of CSI to a whole new generation of newly minted emerging architects, I asked my fellow Architects, CSI members, and bloggers if they would be willing to share their answers to this question, and they most graciously did. I asked:
“At what age did you become CDT certified and how has CSI helped you in your career?”
Their responses were interesting! Here they are:
- From Liz O’Sullivan, AIA, CSI, CDT, CCS, CCCA:
“I was 34 years old when I took the CDT exam, 37 when I took the CCS ,and 38 years old when I took the CCCA. (I passed each one the first time through when I took them.) I’m age 39 now.
“I was 29 when I completed all of my architectural licensing exams and became registered.
“I had my first child when I was 30, and my second when I was 32. (I took 4-1/2 years off from architecture, starting when I had my older son. I took the CDT during that period. I feel that this is all relevant, because I wouldn’t have considered the career that I have now if I hadn’t stopped working completely for a while. If I hadn’t mommy-tracked myself, I would have never discovered writing specs! I knew I wanted to do it, and taking the CDT was my first step.)
“I wish I’d known more about the CDT earlier. It would have helped me with my work as Project Manager in an architecture firm; but the A.R.E. was such an important hurdle for me, it had to be top priority.”
- John Guill, CSI, CCS, CCCA, AIA, SCIP, SpecWriter and Associate of dtr Consulting Services in Santa Rosa, CA (find him on Twitter: @SpecmonkeyNorth):
“I received my CDT on July 1, 1998 at age 39, my CCS on June 30, 2000 [at] age 40, my CCCA on June 20, 2006 [at] age 46.
“I value these certifications above that of my architecture license, since there are fewer CSI certificates– and no shortage of architects! I continue to believe that the CCS was the most challenging test I have ever taken. There is no question in my mind that whatever career success I may have experienced, it has been greatly aided by CSI certifications, in particular, and the organization in general.
“At present, I am 52 years old, although sometimes it feels like more, and have every prospect of surviving to annoy my posterity to the second generation!”
- Sheldon Wolfe RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, CSC:
“I joined CSI when I was thirty-eight, and successfully passed the CCS certification exam about a year later. The first part of the test was made up of multiple-guess questions, and maybe short fill-in-the-blank questions; the remaining portions were all to be written out longhand. One part required the creation of a complete specification section, using information from a manufacturer’s advertising. Another part was writing a letter, explaining the organization and value of the CSI Formats.
“Here’s the not-so-short version: I was near graduation in 1969 with a B.S. in Biology when “Uncle Sam” told me he had other plans; so, I spent the next couple of years serving in the United States Army. It wasn’t all bad. It was my first exposure to the larger culture and I learned to how to use a typewriter. During that time, two of my friends and I got together and decided we would all go back to school, get architecture degrees, get back together, and change the world. (Such are the dreams of youth!). One of the three guys ended up at NASA, another became a Veterinarian, and the other one (me…) actually went to architecture school, which left me several years behind others of my age. However, I eventually obtained a job in architecture at age twenty-eight.”
From the venerable David Stutzman, AIA, CSI, CCS, SCIP, LEED AP, and Principal of Conspectus:
“I obtained my CCS certification back in 1980, before the CDT exam even existed! I was 27 years old at the time. I joined CSI in March of that same year (1980), just prior to taking the exam.”
- Michael Chusid, R.A., FCSI, owner at Chusid Associates. (You can visit Michael’s company website at: www.chusid.com and check out his blog at: www.BuildingProductMarketing.com):
“I’m 59 years old and became CCS certified in 1983 when I was 30 years old. This, of course, was prior to the CDT exam.
“I studied harder for the CCS exam than I did for my architectural exam. Not that the CCS exam was necessarily harder than the architectural exam, but because — after 5 years in architecture — I could see that it was finally time for me to understand what was really going on in the construction industry.”
- And, finally, from Joy Davis, CSI, CCPR herself:
“I was already employed by CSI when I moved to Albuquerque in 2004. I join the CSI Albuquerque Chapter where I found an extremely patient group of mentors. They encouraged me to obtain my CDT certificate, which included getting me into a class that used the CDT exam as a final; they answered every ridiculous question my non-construction background produced! And, once again, these same patient mentors were available for another round of goofy questions in the fall of 2010, when I studied for (and passed!) the CCPR (Certified Construction Product Representative) certification exam.”
- And, lastly, my most favorite personal CSI testimony of all is found here on this absolute GEM of a website called Specology- written and curated by John W. O’Neil, CSI, CCS, CCCA, LEED AP, Construction Specifier at the Larson & Darby Group in Rockford, Illinois.
CSI’s CDT (Construction Documents Technology certification exam)- Sign Me Up!
The good news is: for those of you who want to take the Spring Exam, there’s still plenty of time to study and prepare– if you act NOW! And, the best news is that CSI is offering early registration discounts as outlined below:
- 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
General information about the CDT exam: www.csinet.org/cdt
- 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: www.csinet.org/pdpg
Advanced Exam Information
Cost of an advanced exam:
- Before Feb. 2: $275 (member) $410 (non-member)
- After Feb. 2: $340 (member) $475 (non-member)
General CSI Certification Information can be found here: www.csinet.org/certification
- Licensed architects who take the CDT course qualify for 16 AIA CEU HSW/SD Credits.
- IDP Candidates earn 40 supplementary education elective hours for passing the CDT Exam.
Contact your local (or nearest) CSI Chapter Representative if you have specific questions on how to sign up.
Curious About CSI’s Nomenclature? Here’s What the Initials Stand For, Along with their respective Exam Registration Links:
- CDT- Construction Documents Technology certificate
- CCS- Certified Construction Specifier: www.csinet.org/ccs- Now based on the Construction Specifications Practice Guide (www.csinet.org/cspg)
- CCCA- Certified Construction Contract Administrator: www.csinet.org/ccca- Now based on the Construction Contract Administration Practice Guide (www.csinet.org/ccapg)
- CCPR- Certified Construction Product Representative certification: www.csinet.org/ccpr- This is the last year this exam will be based on the PRM (www.csinet.org/prm)
Test-taking: A Few Important Reminders to Consider-
- You will need to read the CDT book and study it weekly; make a reasonable study schedule and stick to it (same as you did for the A.R.E. or for college finals)
- You will need to sign up at an approved test center- you can follow the instructions on the CSI website, choosing a specific day and time- slots fill up fast, so sign up as early as possible
- Allow plenty of travel time to arrive at the test center, planning for traffic, parking, etc.; directions are also available from the test center or CSI website
- If you need to cancel, you will be refunded your money ONLY if you do so at least 15 days prior to the first day of scheduled tests (please refer to the CSI website for all rules concerning cancellations), otherwise you will forfeit all or some of your money.
- It is my understanding that reservations with the testing center are SEPARATE from your exam registration arrangement with CSI; should you need to cancel, you will need to deal with both agencies.
Good luck and I’ll See You at the next CSI Meeting!