What is the Society for Design Administration (SDA)?
SDA 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)
  • Is SDA affiliated with other organizations?
    SDA has almost 50 years of affiliation and cooperation with AIA. SDA has a partnership agreement with AIA, which continues our status as a preferred CES provider, offers booth space at the AIA Convention, and affords SDA positions on the NCARB IDP Committee and the AIA Contract Documents Committee. SDA also has an agreement with a/e ProNet, an organization for professional liability insurance brokers.
  • Does SDA offer organizations networking opportunities?
    SDA offers local chapter board meetings, networking events, and education programs. There are also online forum discussions where you can collaborate with colleagues for advice and suggestions, and an annual national convention, EdSymposium, where you will meet SDA members and other industry professionals from throughout North America.
  • Top three reasons I should join SDA?
    To Learn, Lead and Make a Difference.


Strengthening and advancing your administrative 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 with your local Canstruction® efforts.

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, SDA Market, 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

How do I become a member?

Here you will find:
Online Application & Printable Application

Canstruct-A-Member Application – if your firm builds an entry in Canstruction®, SDA provides one FREE NEW membership for the following year.


How much does SDA membership cost?

Professional, Associate, & Member-at-Large National Membership Dues: $225/year + Chapter Dues §
Student National Membership Dues: $25/year + Chapter Dues
Emeritus National Membership Dues: $50/year + Chapter Dues

How do I contact National Headquarters?
Office Hours:
Monday – Thursday, 9am – 5pm Eastern
Phone: 800.711.8199
Fax: 513.448.1921
Email – General: admin@sdadmin.org

 What if I don’t have my member ID number?
Email admin@sdadmin.org

How do I update my account information?
Login and select the Members Resources Tab/View/Edit Profile

When does my membership expire?
Memberships expire at your one year anniversary date.

What are the different types of membership?
Professional: Those persons employed as administrative 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.

Professional members are office managers, marketing directors, business managers, bookkeepers, secretaries, human resource managers, etc., who work for architecture, engineering, interior design, and general contracting firms. Persons who offer marketing, finance, word processing, desktop publishing services, etc., to such firms are also professional members.

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.

Member at Large: Member-at-Large is available when there is no existing chapter in the same area.

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?
http://www.sdanational.org and find the Chapter Resources Tab

When I join, who do I contact do get involved in my local chapter?
http://www.sdanational.org and find the Chapter Resources/Chapter Leadership Tab

Does SDA have chapters outside the United States?
SDA Canada is an affiliated group with SDA.


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 some resources online at http://www.sdanational.org, and by getting involved in your local chapter.

Available resources revolve around five core areas, called Professional Emphasis Groups (PEGs). The PEGs are the foundation for continuing education seminars, on-line resources, networking opportunities, and the Certification Program.



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