How to Become a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)

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So, you would like to become a certified welder? There are several requirements to meet, but the task is not difficult. The hardest step is to make the decision, which you have already achieved.

Certification is almost a must in order to be hired by most employers. Welding is a skilled trade that requires precision work to ensure safety and quality craftsmanship. However, you will quickly see how the time and effort spent is worth it. This credential puts you on a higher level of demand from employers who are more than willing to compete for your validated expertise.

What are the Requirements?

How to Become a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)

1. Education and Experience

This field is quite versatile when it comes to education. Some employers don’t demand it at all, but work experience will need to be at an all-time high up to about 12 years, if that is the case. The power of a high school diploma or GED equivalent has the upperhand here. It will be needed in order to qualify for the advanced welding certifications.

Additionally, a postsecondary diploma can help you quickly pass the certification exam. Many local community colleges and trade schools offer welding training programs that can take from as little as seven months and up to two years. Some of these schools can add the certification process to the end of your curriculum. This is a great benefit and may make the process more seamless.

Work experience is a must for most employers. Let this not worry you though if you do not have any. There are many opportunities that offer on-the-job training. If you see a position that interests you, it is better to ask questions about it, rather than assume it is out of reach.

Most welding certifications are earned through the American Welding Society (AWS). There are no prerequisites to apply for the basic certification titled Certified Welder. The remaining certificates require the minimum education of a high school diploma and possibly work experience up to four years. How long it takes to complete all available certifications depends on different factors. The faster you pass the certification test, the faster you can get to work as a certified welder. 

The exam covers three areas: welding fundamentals, practical applications, and welding code application. The price widely ranges from $35 to about $1100. A vision test may also be required.

2. Skills

There are typical skills needed to be a successful welder. Attention to detail is certainly key to add here. You will need physical strength to work with metal and heavy equipment. Teamwork and adaptability are also important, along with Blueprint reading. As far as computer skills go, being familiar with Microsoft and Excel are major bonuses. 

Welding Inspector: Step-by-Step Guide

How to Become a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)

Now that you know the requirements to become a certified welding inspector, let’s review a quick step by step process to ensure smooth success.

1. First off, get that high school diploma or GED equivalent. Additionally, strive to obtain a Postsecondary diploma. You will give yourself major leverage by doing so. One tip is to increase courses directly related to welding such as mathematics or drafting.

2. Secondly, gain the work experience needed to sell your abilities. Most employers will be looking for this. Plus, work history is required to take advanced certification tests with the American Welding Society. Look into on-the-job training opportunities or internships to meet these standards.

3. Finally, pass the Welding Inspector Certification exam. Once the minimum education and work history is met, you can proceed with this. Testing can last about two hours. So, come prepared. Note that certificates must be renewed every three years. 

Additional Endorsements

The more knowledge, the more power right? Here is a list of additional endorsements. While they are not required, getting them under your belt will open up many opportunities, like bridge and railway inspections, that may otherwise be excluded due to jurisdictional or customer requirements. 

  • D1.1 Structural Steel
  • D1.2 Structural Aluminum
  • D1.5 Bridge Welding
  • D15.1 Railroad
  • D17.1 Aerospace
  • API 1104 Pipeline
  • Penetrant Testing (PT Type II- Method C)
  • Welder Performance Qualification Endorsement
  • Magnetic Particle Testing (MT Dry Powder Yoke Method)
  • ASME Pressure Vessel Section IX, Pressure Piping B31.1 and B31.3
  • ASME Pressure Vessel Section VIII, Div. 1 and Section IX
  • Structural Drawing Reading
  • Structural Bolting Inspection


Does my experience have to be specifically welding or can it be other similar duties?

Work experience must directly relate to welding

Who is eligible to become a certified welder?

Anyone with a talent for welding

Where do I take the test?

The American Welding Society requires the test to be taken at one of their accredited testing facilities.

How much does a certified welder inspector make a year?

The average salary is about $72,000 a year. The hourly rate is about $26.64.

Welding is a great career choice. Keeping a step by step guide in front of you will make the process much easier. Keep in mind that the process can be sped up, depending on how fast you can work through some of the requirements. 

Being certified will bring you greater rewards such as strong employment demands and, more than likely, higher salaries. Employers are searching for potential certified welding inspectors like you, so start your journey today.

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