How to Become a Certified Welding Inspector

A career as a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) can be very rewarding.  This certification, which is awarded by the American Welding Society, carries a lot of weight both nationally and internationally.  The main responsibility of a CWI is to make sure that welders follow specified guidelines in order to manufacture a product that is of highest quality and more importantly safe for the consumer.  CWIs essentially guarantee that every weld made in a welded assembly is free of defect.  As you can imagine this is a great responsibility.  However, with proper training and a sound quality assurance program a CWI can enhance the marketability and prosperity of his company.
CWI
Having a CWI on staff is not required of all manufacturers, but it certainly helps.  Even if you do not need to qualify welders or procedures, the knowledge of a CWI can go a long way insuring quality and improving welding operations efficiencies within a plant.

In order to become a CWI you need to meet the following requirements:

  1. Pass a vision test
  2. Have a combination of qualifying education and related work experience.  You must meet one of the following:
    1. Associate or higher degree in engineering technology, or a physical science with minimum work experience of 3 years.
    2. High school diploma plus two or more years engineering/technical school courses and minimum 3 years of  work experience
    3. High school diploma plus one year engineering/technical school courses or one or more years of vocational education and training in a welding curriculum. Minimum work experience is 4 years
    4. High school diploma or high school equivalency diploma plus 5 years or work experience
    5. At least 8th grade completed plus 9 years of work experience
    6. Less than 8th grade requires 12 years of work experience

If you meet both requirements then follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the AWS Certified Welding Inspector Exam Application.  This from can be found at the AWS website or by clicking the following link:   http://www.aws.org/certification/docs/CWI_Only_pkg_v3.pdf
  2. Submit application to AWS along with application fee.  $850 for an AWS member, $1065 for non-members.
  3. Choose an examination site.  AWS has several sites across the US.
  4. Participate in the welding inspector training.  This is a week-long seminar offered the week of the AWS certification test. Although this is not required it is highly recommended.  The CWI test is very challenging even for those with extensive welding experience.
  5. Take the test.  The test has three section:
    1. 150 questions on welding fundamentals and inspection
    2. Practical application – hands on inspections
    3. Open-book code application test
    4. In order to pass the test you must score 72% or higher.  If you pass you must then take the vision test.  This vision test must also be taking each time you file for renewal.

It is highly recommended to attend the week long seminar that prepares you for this examination. However, if you cannot this there are several self study courses out there.  It is hit and miss whether or not the quality is there. However, there are two books that are highly recommended:

1. Welding Inspection Handbook by the American Welding Society

2. AWS D1.1/D1.1M:2015 Structural Welding Code – Steel

Or, if you are going to test per API 1104 you may want to check out Welding of Pipelines and Related Facilities, 21st Edition

These books are very expensive. If you are going to be a CWI you need to own one, but you don’t necessarily have to purchase this from AWS or API. Shop around for the best deal, but get the latest version.

Getting personnel trained and certified as a CWI can be one of the most profitable investments a manufacturer can make.

Do you have a CWI on staff? How has it helped your company?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “How to Become a Certified Welding Inspector

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for the question. As mentioned on the post you have the option, and it is highly encouraged, to take the 5-day seminar. If you go with this option you can get the Exam/Seminar Package. The cost is $2,080 for an AWS member and $2,295 for a non-member. This package includes the D1.1 Code Clinic, Welding Inspection Technology, Visual Inspection Workshops, Exam & D1.1 codebook.
      Other expenses are associated with getting to the examination site. AWS offers these seminars and exams at major cities across the US, so chances are you have one within driving distance. Typically you will arrive Sunday and leave Saturday, so figure 6 nights at a hotel. Also factor in your meals. If you are traveling to a site you may be looking at about $2,800 to $3,200 total expense to get your certification.

  1. On the engineering/technical school courses. Does Drafting and design fall under this?
    I have 2 years of Drafting and 3 1/2 years welding. Would I qualify? or do I need to wait.

    • Hello David. Yes, the courses in drafting would if they are part of a technical and/or engineering degree, even if the degree was not attained. This has to be in combination with at least three years experience.
      The American Welding Society’s website has all the detail. You can go to it and look up the Contacts. They are very helpful in answering questions such as this that fall in that gray area. Their site is http://www.aws.org