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Decoding Trends in Designer and Detailer Upskilling



Upskilling to benefit your career, your craft, and your company is always a good idea. But when there are only so many hours in a day, what should designers and detailers focus on? 

We found a few clues in Tekla, Trimble’s structural BIM software. Tekla’s online learning programs and channels saw a big spike in engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Here, we analyze data from the top 20 courses to understand more about in-demand BIM skills and what your peers are focused on mastering.

Skill Focus on 20 Most-popular Trimble Tekla Courses


Design and Analysis

Including: Steel sheet piling, foundation, retaining walls, timber members, concrete industrial flooring, anchor bolts, RC corbel design, and more. 

The fact that design and analysis makes up the majority of Tekla’s most popular courses is no surprise. The hurdle of BIM adoption has been cleared and it continues to gain ground in AEC firms. 

Designers and detailers who want to be productive must have the ability to create solutions that can be reused over and over using different-sized elements that adjust to the new dimensions.


Workflow Grouping

Coming in as the second-most popular skill to learn in Tekla is workflow grouping, by which we really mean workflow optimization and automation. Since BIM is really a process, not a technology, these courses focus on teaching engineers and designers to:

  • Calculate groups of elements simultaneously

  • Assign the same parameters for all grouped elements

  • Calculate schedules that take into account all elements of a group

  • And, create detailed design reports and graphical checks that allow for rapid validation. 


Multi-material Design

Including: Model validation, linear analysis, gravity design, and various collaboration tools.

Combining separate models after the fact wastes time and increases the potential for errors. Understanding how to use multi-material design and analysis software helps AEC professionals work from the same model throughout the entire process. 

This kind of efficiency in concrete and steel work, including the ability to manage changes, collaborate, and quickly compare alternative designs is a game-changer for firms who want a competitive edge. 


Prefab/Precast Modeling predicted offsite manufacturing to grow by 50 percent by 2023 in January 2020. The actual number of prefabricated and modular projects may turn out to be even higher, since social distancing mandates have made jobsite construction a bit trickier.

This could be a reason we see a rise in modeling and analysis training for prefab and precast work —  specifically connections, embeds, stairs, ladders, handrails, and even the most complex rebar. 



Using data-rich 3D models as part of a bid package helps firms extract the highest level of accurate quantities and turn it into labor and cost information. For detailers and designers, learning to use an estimodel can help them track future changes and quantify hours for erectors and finishers. 


However you decide to expand your skill set, remember that the most valuable designers and detailers are those who can find all the problems up front before anything gets out into the field.