Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

What is SDA?


SDA (the Society for Design Administration) is a nonprofit organization comprised of management and administrative persons engaged in professional administrative services to architecture/engineering/ construction (A/E/C) firms and related disciplines.

What is the purpose of SDA?


SDA’s purpose is to advance management and administrative professionals in the A/E/C industry through education, networking, leadership, and resources. SDA is an elite organization that addresses the issues and concerns of its members, and educates them in all aspects of firm administration.

Who can join SDA?


Anyone who is employed as managerial or administrative personnel in the A/E/C industry or anyone whose products or services support the industry. (Examples: Office manager, controller, marketing coordinator, CFO, receptionist, project administrator)


Does SDA offer organizations networking opportunities?


SDA offers local chapter meetings, networking events, and education programs. There are also online groups where you can collaborate with colleagues across the country for advice and suggestions. SDA also offers EDSymposium, our annual national convention, where you will meet SDA members and other industry professionals from throughout North America.


Why should I join SDA?

To Learn, Lead and Make a Difference. Strengthening and advancing your administrative or managerial career is dependent on many variables today. Top among them are your ability to solve problems quickly and efficiently, development of your leadership skills, and staying on top of current trends and information.


Problem-Solving Resources


Whether you’re new to the industry and uncertain how best to accomplish an industry-specific task or are an experienced high-level manager looking for best ideas on implementing a new protocol, efficiency in finding the right solution are paramount to your success and that of your firm. SDA’s resources can help save you hours in research and lead you quickly to viable solutions that save you and your firm time and money.


The SDA Forum is the premier administrative problem-solving resource in the A/E/C industry. Putting the combined knowledge and experience of SDA members across the country at your fingertips, the Forum gets your questions and needs in front of them instantly and lets you get answers and ideas back quickly. Why re-create a form or process when someone else has already created and honed one that works? Why take a chance on leasing new equipment that may look good on paper but that others in the industry have found to be lacking? SDA’s Forum gives you the answers you need when you need them.


Leadership Development Opportunities


Every professional can benefit from leadership development. By maximizing the effectiveness of your leadership skills, you and your entire organization and network of associates reap the benefits.


Cultivate your leadership skills by getting involved in SDA. You can volunteer to serve on chapter committees or your chapter's board of directors, write a white paper, get published by writing an article for SDA Today, and share you knowledge and area of expertise by hosting a program for your local chapter.


Be a leader in your community and get involved in community based volunteer programs such as Canstruction®, Kidstruction and other programs sponsored by local SDA chapters.


Educational Opportunities & Resources


Continuing education not only helps you keep up with industry best practices, it helps keep you relevant in a marketplace where a highly skilled and specialized workforce is in demand. SDA also offers a diverse and vast array of resources and ongoing educational opportunities through programs, forums, SDA Today, white papers, webinars, affinity programs, and volunteerism.

What is CDFA?

SDA, the recognized leader in education for best practices in the A/E/C industry, offers a credential that recognizes your achieved administrative and management expertise, the Certified Design Firm Administrator (CDFA) designation. The CDFA credential is a voluntary certification designed to elevate the professional standards in design firm management and administration and contribute to the firm’s organizational growth and maturity through better practices in firm management.


What is Canstruction®?

Canstruction® is making a significant contribution to the fight against HUNGER! Founded by SDA, Canstruction® is a special public relations event aimed at putting a spotlight on the design/construction industry doing something tangible to help in the fight against hunger by combining the competitive spirit of a design/build competition with a unique way to help those in need. Competing teams, led by architects and engineers, showcase their talents by designing giant sculptures made entirely out of canned and packaged foods. The resulting structures become an art exhibit that goes on view to the public in each city where a competition is held. At the end of the exhibitions all of the food used in the structures is donated to the city’s local food banks for distribution to on-going feeding programs.


Canstruction events are held worldwide in over 100 cities.

Membership FAQs

What are the different types of membership?


Professional: Those persons employed as administrative or managerial personnel for an architect, engineer, or design professional related to the construction industry, whether in private practice, on the staff of a licensing or registration board, a school, or any other public or private institution or company, and consultants who perform design services administration or who has been classified as a Professional member during the prior dues year for the entities described above.

Associate: Those persons whose products or services support the design profession. Associate members are vendors who provide products and other services to our member firms, such as office and drafting suppliers, travel agents, insurance agents, reprographic consultants, plan centers, etc.


Emeritus: Those members in good standing at the time of retirement from professional life in the design profession for a minimum of 12 years and SDA for a minimum of 10 years.


Student: Those persons who are currently enrolled as full-time students in an accredited program leading to a certificate or degree in architecture, engineering, interior design, or with a professed interest in applying their studies to the professional administration of such businesses.

How much does SDA membership cost?

  • Professional and Associate Membership Dues: $250/year + Chapter Dues
  • Student National Membership Dues: $25/year + Chapter Dues
  • Emeritus National Membership Dues: $50/year + Chapter Dues

How do I become a member?

Go to and select the Join, then Become a Member.

Where do I find my SDA member ID number?

From the right side of the SDA Homepage, under My Profile, click on Profile Home and you will see your Member ID number just above your name and to the left of the YM ID number.

I can’t access an article or file on the website. How do I let you someone know?


You can click on the Contact Us link at the top of the website and complete the information in the popup box. That will automatically generate a notice at SDA Headquarters and we will respond as quickly as possible.


How do I update my account information?

From the right side of the SDA Homepage, under My Profile, click on Manage Profile . You can make changes to your account there.

When does my membership expire?


For members joining after 12/31/13, memberships expire annually on the anniversary of your join date. For members who joined prior to 12/31/13, your membership will expire on December 31 of each year.

My company paid my membership. What happens if I leave my job?

The membership belongs to the individual through the expiration date. If the individual chooses to transfer their membership to another eligible party (whether in the company or another A/E/C firm), they may complete a transfer request to transfer membership.


Chapter Information FAQs

Where can I find information about my local chapter?


From the SDA homepage, select Connect and choose the Chapter Leadership dropdown to find the names and emails of the chapter officers in your area.


When I join, who do I contact do get involved in my local chapter?


Once you complete your membership information and payment, you will receive an email from SDA Headquarters that will connect you to your local chapter president. You should then receive an email and/or phone call from the local chapter shortly thereafter.


Does SDA have chapters outside the United States?


SDA Canada is a parallel organization organized for members located in Canada.



Resources FAQs

What professional resources are available to me once I become a member?

There are decades of resources available at your fingertips once you become a member. You can access all of the resources available online including our forums, white papers, back issues of the SDA Today (our monthly newsletter) and a large number of articles on each of our Professional Emphasis Group (PEG) pages. Click Learn to begin to access all of the resources available to you as part of your SDA member benefit.

What are Professional Emphasis Groups (PEG)?

Descriptions of our five Professional Emphasis Groups are as follows:


This PEG keeps SDA members current on design industry topics related to financial managing and planning. Examples of topics include specialized A/E accounting software, bookkeeping and accounting procedures, liability insurance, contracts, payroll, and accounts receivable and payable.

Human Resources

The HR PEG provides administrative professionals with the tools to balance a host of HR topics, including federal and regional regulations, employee benefits, staffing, and other personnel issues.



This PEG strives to educate administrators in business development, proposal requirements and generation, and methods for conducting market research. The Marketing PEG enhances the marketer's personal skill set in networking techniques, fostering client relations, and developing and monitoring contact management processes.

Office Administration

The OA PEG provides networking and support for SDA members who handle all aspects of office administration. Whereas all the other PEGs have a more specific focus, this one deals with a combination of areas including General Office, Administration, Finance, Human Resources and Marketing.

Project Management

The PM PEG provides SDA members with the tools to tackle the diverse aspects of project management. The PM PEG promotes awareness of the many software programs available to manage projects and specifications, as well as provides information on forms and shortcuts to help manage the day-to-day business of the project.



How do I contact National Headquarters?

You can contact SDA Headquarters in a variety of ways:

Phone: 513.268.5302
Fax: 513.448.1921


What are the office hours of SDA Headquarters?

The office is open Monday – Thursday, 9:00 am – 5:00pm Eastern


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