CWIs (Certified Welding Inspectors) are often asked to “certify” welders. However, most of these requests should actually
be to “qualify” welders. So, what is the difference?
Welder Certification and Qualification
This simply refers to a welder testing to the requirements set forth in an applicable code. For most U.S. applications,
this would be an AWS code book. The steps to gain “qualification” are a little simpler than certification.
Basically, one must insure the welding, inspection, and mechanical testing are conducted in accordance with the
respective code. This does not necessarily require a CWI, but an independent CWI is generally contracted to assist.
One reason is to remove any conflict of interest within the organization conducting the testing. The other reason is to
insure the person “qualifying” the work has passed the testing requirements set forth by the AWS to properly interpret
A welder qualification is governed and maintained by the manufacturing facility and may or may not be recognized by
According to the AWS (American Welding Society):
“The Certified Welder Program is a performance-based program with no prerequisite courses or certifications required.
Final certification will provide “transferable” credentials that you may take with you wherever you go.”
To become “certified”, one has to schedule a visit to an AWS ATF (Accredited Test Facility) and perform the testing there.
After the inspection and mechanical testing is complete, the test facility will then submit the documentation to the AWS
headquarters for review. If everything is properly completed, and all of the testing is satisfactory, the AWS will issue the
welder the certification card.
An AWS “certification” is transferable, meaning any employer must recognize it.