Based on statistics compiled by Career Explorer, there are an estimated 404,800 career welders in the United States. This number is expected to grow between now and 2026. When looking at this number, it is essential to know that multiple certifications can be obtained by welders. Like most professional certifications, there are many levels and specific guidelines that must be followed.
Do welding certificates expire? Depending on the certification you have, the certificate may expire at the end of six or twelve months. During this time, maintenance forms and continuity records must be submitted, or the certification will lapse and fail to be valid.
In this article, you will learn about the various levels of welding certification, as well as the process by which you can verify and renew a welding certificate. You will also learn about the importance of having a certification.
How Long do American Welding Society (AWS) Welding Certifications Last?
Once a welder obtains the proper certification, the certificate is valid for a twelve- or six-month time. During that time frame, the holder of the certificate is responsible for submitting the proper maintenance forms and continuity records to ensure the certification remains valid.
What is a Welding Maintenance Form?
A welding maintenance form is a document that is required by the American Welding Society (AWS) to maintain proper certification.
- This document is required to be filled out every 12 months for sheet metal certifications and every 6 months for all other certifications.
- Before the document is filled out, it must be signed off on by either an employer or test supervisor to verify the individual is using the practices he or she is certified for.
- The individual submitting the form must also submit a $10 fee.
What are Welding Continuity Records?
The other document that needs to be submitted is the welding continuity record. This document tracks the welding jobs completed by an individual. Typically, this is filed by the employer, unless you are a self-employed welder. You may also need to provide this document for auditing purposes.
How do I Verify a Welding Certificate?
Here are the steps to follow to verify a welding certificate.
- Log in to the AWS website
- Click the Certification link on the top menu bar.
- On the right side of the page, choose the option labeled quikcheck/verify certification
- You will see two options:
- Provide the information requested at the prompt, and you will be able to verify your certifications easily. The National Registry is more specific to welding certifications.
If you are an employer or a welder, it would be wise to verify your welding certificate to ensure it is up to date and active. The verification process is quite simplistic, thanks to the AWS website.
It is recommended that you not only use the verification tool online but also request a photo ID as further evidence that you are legitimate. This may seem a bit overkill, but the last thing you want to do is verify the certificate of the wrong individual.
What are The Different Levels of Welding Certificates?
Welding is a remarkably diverse field and includes many different certifications that you can choose from. Here are the certification options you can choose from when you head down the welding path:
- Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)
- Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI)
- Certified Radiographic Interpreter (CRI)
- Certified Welding Educator (CWE)
- Certified Welding Supervisor (CWS)
- Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR)
- Certified Resistance Welding Technician (CRWT)
- Certified Welding Engineer (CWE)
- Certified Welder (CW)
- Certified Robotic Arc Welding (CRAW)
Certified Welding Inspector (CWI): This certification is not an entry-level certification. This would be more for an experienced welder that has moved through the ranks and is ready to take on a role as supervisor. There are two levels to this certification (Associate and Senior).
Certified Radiographic Interpreter (CRI): You must be experienced in radiographic reading to begin thinking about this certificate. There also several prerequisites when it comes to being qualified to obtain the certificate.
Certified Welding Educator (CWE): This certificate allows you to teach welding courses. Before being certified, you must have experience and familiarity with various types of welding.
Certified Welding Supervisor (CWS): This certificate allows you to take on a supervisory role and share your knowledge with other welders.
Certified Welding Sales Representative (CWSR): This certificate allows you to take on a sales position within the realm of welding. To pursue this certification, you will need to be highly knowledgeable of welding equipment and new technologies in the field of welding.
Certified Resistance Welding Technician (CRWT): This certification will allow you to work further in the industry with welding. Many holders of this certificate work with automobile or appliance companies.
Certified Welding Engineer (CWE): This certificate is for an experienced welder that wants to see the welding process through from the beginning to the end, with design and production.
Certified Welder (CW): To obtain this certification, you will go through a series of performance-based tasks. This certificate allows you to add on others as you wish.
Certified Robotic Arc Welding (CRAW): To apply for this certificate, you need to have experience in the field of welding with robotics and other welding experience.
As you can see, the list of welding options is quite extensive. Each certificate has different prerequisites, as well as many other details about each certificate. If you are interested in researching the above certifications further, you can check out the AWS website for details as well as the process to register for exams. It is also essential to know that many endorsements can be added to many of the certificates.
Is A Welding Certificate Worth It?
After reading about certifications, renewal, and verification forms, you may be wondering if the certification is even worth all the hassle, especially if you attended a welding school and know what you are doing.
If you want to be a career welder, it would be advantageous to get a specialized certificate. While there are likely some employers that hire welders without certification, the number is likely low. When employers look at job candidates, a certification is typically going to be of importance and value to them for two reasons:
- Certifications are appealing: Just like any profession, when an employer sees an advanced degree or more specially trained candidate, they are going to stand out from the crowd. Certifications can show initiative, as well as the time the candidate was willing to take to hone their craft of welding.
- It is protection: It may seem strange to view a certification as a form of protection, but it is an excellent protection to both employees and employers. If a specialized individual is hired, there is less risk of mistakes being made or accidents happening. With this lowered risk, the welfare of co-workers, as well as the business, is much more protected and safer.
Welding certifications are different than most other professional certifications because they have a much more frequent renewal process. Many different certifications and endorsements can be chosen by welders, and they can choose something extremely specific. If you are an experienced welder looking to move into a more supervisory or educational role, those certificates can be obtained as well.
No matter what you choose, be sure to research the requirements before beginning. Always make sure to follow the proper renewal process and keep accurate records, so you are always certified.