Welders are in high demand, highly skilled workers that are essential to many different industries. As a certified welder, you can find work repairing and maintaining community infrastructure, building pipelines to help energy companies get fuel and oil across the country, or working in the automotive sector repairing and building vehicles. And these are just a few of the options available to trained and certified welders.
So how do you become certified?
Depending on where you want to work, there are a few options. Presently, there are several different welding organizations that provide certification. The certification process is used to determine that the applicant possesses the necessary skills to safely complete a range of welding procedures. Certification demonstrates that you understand and can comply with the different safety codes in place and can work with a variety of different materials.
There are different certifications available for different purposes. Depending on the welding career path you choose, you might need to obtain multiple certifications.
In most cases, you’ll likely obtain a certification from either the American Welding Society, the American Petroleum Institute, or the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Welding Certifications You Need to Know About
American Welding Society Certifications
The American Welding Society (AWS) is the largest organization offering certification programs in the United States. The AWS has partnered with the Ironworkers Union and the Sheet Metal Institute to offer specific welding certifications.
During your welding career, you may want to obtain more than one of the welding certifications provided through AWS. For instance, a professional welder may become a certified welder before earning a welding inspector certification later on in their career.
Here are a few of the welding certifications offered by the AWS:
This certificate is obtained by completing a series of performance-based tests. Applicants are tested on their skills and ability to successfully perform all aspects of a selected welding procedure. To obtain certification, the applicant must demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to complete the test.
There are no educational requirements necessary to obtain this certification. However, it’s a good idea to have taken some formal courses or spent time being trained by a certified professional beforehand. If you are unable to pass the certification, it can be retaken.
Tests for this certification are taken at AWS Accredited Testing Facilities located all over the world.
Certified Welding Inspector
It takes time to become a certified welding inspector. Many professional welders will start by becoming certified welder before moving on to a welding inspector later in their career.
To obtain this certification, the applicant will need to have completed some educational courses and have several years of certified welding experience. This certification includes both a written test and a performance test. In some instances, you may be able to substitute experience for coursework.
Certified Robotic Arc Welding
Becoming certified in robotic arc welding requires the applicant to meet a series of requirements before taking the exam. Whether you plan to become certified as a technician or operator, you’ll need anywhere from 12-18 months of experience beforehand.
You’ll need to have your welding inspector certification if you want to become a CRAW technician. This certification includes a performance test where applicants must demonstrate they possess the necessary knowledge and skills. Upon successfully obtaining this certification, you’ll need to pass a reexamination test every three years.
Certified Resistance Welding Technician
Resistance welding is mainly used in manufacturing automobiles, appliances, and wire or sheet metal products. The equipment used in the industries that use resistance welding requires highly skilled technicians and engineers.
This certification, co-developed by the American Welding Society (AWS) and the Resistance Welding Manufacturing Alliance (RWMA), ensures that welders demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to complete work in this field.
This certification requires a high school diploma/GED/relevant military training or 1-3 years related work experience. The certification test is administered by Prometric and can be completed at 450 exam centers spread throughout the world.
The American Petroleum Institute Certification
If you plan to work in the energy sector, you’ll need to obtain a certification from the American Petroleum Institute. When welding in environments where oil and gas are present, it’s very important to always stay safe and follow the proper welding best practices.
This certification shows that you are certified to work in the oil and gas industry and safely follow code.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers Certification
If you’re hoping to work with boiler or vessel codes, you’ll need to obtain the American Society of Engineers welding certification. This certification includes a performance test where the applicant demonstrates the knowledge to safely work with power and heating boilers, pressure vessels, and transport tanks.
It is important to note that this certification is not specifically for welding techniques or welders but will certify the individual to work on specific items like boilers.
Obtaining a Welding License: What You Should Know
Obtaining your welding certification is just one part of the process of becoming a professional welder. In some states, in addition to certification, you may need to obtain a license. In New York, for instance, you need to apply for a state license once you have become certified by the AWS or N.Y. State Department of Transportation.
States aren’t the only government bodies that require welders to hold a license. In some cities, you’ll need to pass certification or licensing processes. This is usually the case for any positions employed by the government. In Los Angeles, welders must pass the city’s testing to become certified and licensed L.A. City Certified Welder. Without obtaining this license, welders in L.A. can’t be employed by the city.
Ultimately, licensing requirements come down to where you live. Certain areas are satisfied with just a welding certificate, but others require further testing and licensing. If you’re hoping to obtain employment with a local, state, or federal organization, it’s best to check with the employer for any additional licensing or certification requirements they may have in place.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Certified Welder
If you’re ready to start your career as a professional welder, you may be wondering how long it takes to become certified. Ultimately, it takes some time, depending on your previous experience and the route you want to take.
First comes the training portion. If you enroll in a welding program offered by a local college, the program can take up to two years to complete. During this time, you will study different welding operations and procedures. You’ll also spend time working with instructors putting this new knowledge into practice, and developing your skills. Some schools will offer accelerated programs that take less than two years to complete.
Keep in mind, though; you don’t need a formal education to become a certified welder. If you enroll in a program like Welder 101, you can learn all of the necessary welding knowledge and techniques you need to pass your certification exam.
Once you’ve completed your training and education, you can prepare for your certification exam. How long this takes is up to you. Once you feel ready for the exam, you can contact a testing facility and pay for the exam. The AWS recommends that you thoroughly study the QC7 Standard beforehand and bring a copy of it with you on exam day.
After successfully completing your welding certification exam, you’ll need to wait to receive your credentials. This is usually a fairly quick process. Generally speaking, it takes about four weeks to receive your credentials after passing the exam.
Maintenance and Recertification
Once you’ve obtained your certification, you’ll never stop learning. Different certifications require the welding professional to recertify every 1-3 years. If you’re an AWS certified welder, you’ll need to submit a maintenance form every six months to keep your certification.
This form confirms that you are still performing the same welding procedures you were initially tested and certified on. If you fail to submit this form within the appropriate time frame, you’ll have to get retested on the procedures to have your welding certification reinstated.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Your Welding Certification
How much money you’ll spend to become a certified welder comes down to what route you choose to take and which certifications you want to obtain.
While there are set fees for obtaining a certification, you’ll also need to think about your education beforehand. If you wish to enroll in a welding program at a community college, you’ll have to pay tuition for the courses. This can vary depending on the school and program. If you enroll in an online course like Welder 101, you can obtain all the knowledge you need for less than $500.
Once your education is complete, you can take a certification exam. The AWS is the main organization you’ll obtain certification through. They offer several certificates that cost anywhere from $35 to over $1000.
This certification is the first one a welder obtains. The exam costs $35 and can be taken at any accredited testing facility. There are no education requirements to obtain this certification.
Certified Welding Inspector:
To become a welding inspector, you’ll need to meet the minimum education and experience requirements. The cost to take this exam ranges anywhere from $850 – $1065.
Senior Certified Welding Inspector:
If you wish to take your welding inspector certification even further, you can become a senior certified welding inspector. Like the junior certificate, this requires specific education and experience milestones to be reached.
The cost for this certification ranges from $850 – $1065.
Certified Welding Educator:
If you’re looking to become an educator and train welding apprentices in a college setting, you’ll need to become certified as a welding educator. This requires you to hold a full or part-time position as a classroom teacher, have a valid welding certification, complete an application, and obtain a letter of recommendation supporting your knowledge and teaching abilities.
Once all that is obtained, the cost for this certification is $635 – $850.
Welding Education Requirements
Welding is a skilled trade that requires the welder to be able to work safely and precisely. Every employer is different and may have their own educational requirements to hire someone.
Some employers may only wish to work with certified and experienced welders. In this case, they’ll want someone who has demonstrated they won’t require much (if any) training to get to work on a project right away.
Other employers may have opportunities for new welders just starting their careers. You might get lucky and find an employer willing to hire you as an apprentice and offer on-the-job training.
When you enroll in a welding training program, you learn all the skills necessary to pass your certification exam. This includes learning how to heat and shape metals and how to safely complete different types of welds like MIG or TIG, for example. Some programs will consist of advanced classes covering mathematics, blueprint reading, and what different welding symbols mean. A formal welding program can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years to complete.
At the bare minimum, you’ll need to have a high school diploma to become a certified welder. If you’re lucky, you may be able to enroll in a training program at your high school as you work to complete your diploma.
Enroll in Welder 101 and Get Your Career Started!
If you’re serious about having a career in welding, enrolling in the Welder 101 course is a great place to start. Members will get access to a library of videos and resources which will cover everything you need to know if you want to obtain your welding certification. This comprehensive course gives you lifetime access to the materials and will help you get prepared.
Better yet, you’ll get access to our private Facebook group, where you can interact with other members and experienced welders. It’s a great place to connect and learn about job opportunities and expand your welding knowledge.
Every new welder will need equipment, so your membership also includes several discounts. You’ll be able to save on WelderUp merchandise as well as equipment from some of the industry’s most reputable manufacturers.
Take the first step towards a rewarding welding career by enrolling in Welder 101 today!