Certified Welding Inspector Education Requirements and Career Info

Certified welding inspectors review the work of welders to ensure that fused metal meets required standards and specifications. Professional organizations offer multiple certifications for professional welding inspectors. Read on to learn more.

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Education Requirements

Educational pathways for certified welding inspectors include high school welding classes and certificate programs at vocational schools, trade schools, technical schools or community colleges. Candidates can even earn associate's or bachelor's degrees in welding technology before becoming inspectors. Common course topics include introductory welding, gas welding, pipe welding, arc welding, blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, physics and mathematics.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), building and construction inspectors may need to be licensed or certified (www.bls.gov). The American Welding Society (AWS) offers three certification levels for welding inspectors: certified associate welding inspector, certified welding inspector and senior certified welding inspector (aws.org). All candidates must meet basic education and work experience requirements in order to be eligible for certification.

The BLS further reported that employment growth for construction and building inspectors was expected to be 18% between 2010 and 2020. It added that those who were certified would have the best job prospects. The average annual salary for all construction and building inspectors in May 2012 was reported to be $55,230, according to the BLS.

Certified Associate Welding Inspector (CAWI)

Certified associate welding inspector (CAWI) candidates must pass a written and practical test. Topics covered on the test include welding processes, quality assurance and mathematics. Candidates need at least two years of experience in a welding-related job. Certified associate welding inspectors can only hold their level of certification for three years, after which they may take the test to qualify for the certified welding inspector credential. CAWI certification is not eligible for renewal.

Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)

Like the CAWI certification, the CWI requires individuals to successfully complete a written and practical test. The practical test includes plastic replicas of welds, inspection tools and a codebook. The first knowledge test is a closed-book 150-question exam, while the second knowledge test, taken after the practical exam, is a 46-60 question test in a welding specialization chosen by the applicant. Certification must generally be renewed every three years.

Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI)

Senior certification for welding inspectors calls for at least six years as a CWI and a minimum of 15 years in a welding-related profession. Candidates must pass an eye examination and written test. Certification must be renewed every three years. A 9-year recertification cycle is available for CWIs and SCWIs by examination or by completing continuing education courses.

Job Duties

Welding inspectors check the quality of the metal-joining work done by other welders. Specific job duties depend upon qualification levels and are determined by the employer. In general, certified associate welding inspectors perform inspections under the supervision of CWIs and SCWIs, according to the AWS. Certified Welding Inspectors review various welds to ensure that the join between the two pieces doesn't break, mark defective welds for repair and observe welders in metal shops, according to job listings on Monster.com in Nov. 2011.

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