Friday, July 29, 2011

Is Weld Inspector Certification Beneficial?

Mr. Cameron,

Thank you for writing the monthly column Arc Welding 101 in the Practical Welding magazine. Your articles are very informative. I have a question concerning CWI Certification. I am trying to decide whether obtaining a CWI Certification through AWS would be beneficial to my career. I am presently unemployed and would like to increase my marketability to potential employers. I have a BS degree in Metallurgical Engineering plus over 20 years experience as a materials engineer primarily in the power generation industry. I would appreciate any insight that you could provide me. The course is being offered locally during the first week of August so your prompt response would be greatly appreciated.

David P., P.E.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate your writing and I’m sorry you find yourself in this position.

In the interest of “Full Disclosure” one of my many hats includes Adjunct Instructor for the AWS-Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) Seminars.  That said…

One common career path for Welders is to Inspector.  Dan Davis from wrote an excellent article last year on just that subject (  By now we’ve all seen the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers and read the many articles on the shortage of Welders in our industry.  I believe those numbers transfer over to other welding related careers as well.  With this shortage comes a lack of knowledge of subject matter throughout our field.

The welding world is made up of Inspectors, Welders, Engineers, Salesmen, Programmers, Purchasers, Managers and Metallurgists like yourself.  All of whom make decisions impacting welding every day. So where does the CWI designation fit in to this conversation?

Achieving the designation of CWI does not, in and of itself, make you a better Metallurgist or me a better Inspector.  What it does do is lets those we come in contact with know that we have a fairly good understanding of welding processes, weld quality and welding code requirements.  Those are important attributes for any weld decision maker.  That’s not to say all CWI’s have the same level of knowledge, but you certainly know a CWI’s base.

Although CWI positions are out there, it is not common that employers are looking for only a CWI.  The designation is often coupled with some other requirement such as; a Bolting Inspector, a Certified Welding Inspector w/UT Level II, a Welding Engineer w/CWI or a Materials Engineer w/BS & CWI.  Five years ago, these job designations may have come with a qualifier like, “Must be able to attain CWI designation within one year.” But that statement is becoming less and less common. 

So where do you find the training necessary to determine if you are ready for certification? I may be a little biased, but the American Welding Society ( holds regular seminars all across this country.  The AWS is one option, but it is not the only option.  The Hobart Institute ( offers an extended (80hr) class, The Lincoln Electric Company ( offers a “pre” class (40hrs) prior to the AWS seminar and there are several schools, AWS Chapters and businesses that offer CWI training.

More and more employers are requiring certification as a condition of employment, because they can.  Adding the designation of CWI to your resume certainly would be considered a feather in your cap.