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 responsibilities of a CWI is to make sure that welding operations are manufacturing products that comply with specified welding codes and standards. CWIs essentially are expected to guarantee that every weld made in a welded assembly is free of defect or to reject such weld if it’s not. 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 and him or herself.
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:
- Pass a vision test
- Have a combination of qualifying education and related work experience. You must meet one of the following:
- Associate or higher degree in engineering technology, or a physical science with minimum work experience of 3 years.
- High school diploma plus two or more years engineering/technical school courses and minimum 3 years of work experience
- 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
- High school diploma or high school equivalency diploma plus 5 years or work experience
- At least 8th grade completed plus 9 years of work experience
- Less than 8th grade requires 12 years of work experience
If you meet both requirements then follow these steps:
- Fill out the AWS Certified Welding Inspector Exam Application. This from can be found at the AWS website or by clicking the following link: CWI Seminar Exam Schedule and Applications
- Submit application to AWS along with application fee. $850 for an AWS member, $1065 for non-members.
- Choose an examination site. AWS has several sites across the US.
- 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.
- Take the test. The test has three section:
- 150 questions on welding fundamentals and inspection
- Practical application – hands on inspections
- Open-book code application test
- 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
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?