But how do you get started? Do you need to go to school to become certified, or can you substitute on-the-job experience? Is it even worth getting certified? In this blog from Vern Lewis Welding Supply, we’ll discuss everything that you need to know.
Is It Worth Becoming A Certified Welder? Understanding The Benefits
Yes. Becoming a certified welder is definitely worth it. Many job openings require you to have a baseline welding certification to prove your competency at your job – and if you don’t have this certification, you may be passed over in favor of another candidate.
In addition, having a welding certification can potentially lead to better paying job opportunities in the future.
Starting Out As A Welder – Your Two Primary Options
It’s important to note that you do not necessarily need to go to school to become a certified welder.
You can take the AWS Certified Welder (CW) test with no prerequisites, since it’s completely performance-based – you will only be judged on your ability to follow instructions and create high-quality welds.
However, if you have not undergone any welding training or you’re making a career switch, you will need to gain some experience and education in order to pass the CW test from AWS. There are two options for this:
- Welding school – Some areas may have dedicated welding schools, while others may have welding programs at local community colleges and universities. These programs can vary in length from six months to 2+ years, and will serve as a comprehensive introduction to welding.
- Welding apprenticeship – Your other option is to become a welding apprentice, and learn on the job underneath an experienced welder. If you prefer a hands-on approach instead of going to school, this may be a better option for you.
Taking The American Welding Society Certification Test To Become A Certified Welder (CW)
As mentioned, there are no prerequisites for the Certified Welder (CW) test. To take this test, you must simply schedule it at an accredited AWS facility, and pay the required fee.
Then, you will be given instructions and your ability to weld different materials will be tested. Your performance will be noted by an examiner. If you pass the test, you will obtain your CW certification.
Once you have your CW certification, it is possible to pursue more advanced certifications from the AWS, including Certified Welder Inspector (CWI) certification. However, there are more advanced work and educational requirements for these certifications. You can learn more here.
Additional Certifications For Welders – API, ASME And More
The AWS is, by far, the most widely-accepted welding certification. But some industries have their own standards and certifications. This includes the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the American Petroleum Institute (API).
Each group and each certification has its own requirements. For example, the API 577 certification is designed for welders who work on the fabrication and repair of oil refinery/chemical plant equipment and piping. To get this certification, you need:
- 4+ years of experience in the petrochemical industry if you have no formal education
- 3+ years of experience if you have your GED or high school diploma
- 2+ years of experience if you have a 2-year degree
- 1+ year of experience if you have a BS in engineering or a higher degree
Get Certified As A Welder – And Enjoy A World Of Possibilities
Once you’ve obtained your baseline certification from AWS, you will be able to apply for more jobs, take more educational courses to further your knowledge, and gain the experience you need to continue to learn more about welding – and acquire more advanced certifications in the future.
Whether you’re just beginning your welding journey, or you’re a seasoned welder but you have not undergone formal training or certification, it’s definitely worth it to become certified. Want more information? Take a look at the AWS certification website now, and see what you need to do to become certified.