How to Prepare for the Certified Welding Inspector Exam Part 6: Do I Need the Pre-Seminar?

For the last several years we have been asking every participant who takes the CWI Seminar how we can improve their experience. Over the last two years, the most common answer received on the survey indicated that participants wanted more than the single week of training currently provided. At the same time that we were surveying participants, we asked our instructors to evaluate the preparedness of our participants. Mainly, we wanted to identify the most common knowledge gaps.

What we found was that most participants were not as ready as they thought they were for the CWI Seminar. Many participants believed that they had enough knowledge and experience. They believed that all they needed was a review prior to the exam. Some of them did, but some of them were quickly overwhelmed. It became clear to us that many participants would benefit greatly from more than a single week of training.

This of course provided participants and AWS with a new set of issues, mainly additional time away from work and family, additional travel expenses, and additional material to learn immediately before the exam. In an effort to provide participants with the additional training they wanted, while minimizing the potential issues produced by multiple weeks of training, AWS decided to pursue a blended approach to CWI training.

On July 1st, The American Welding society will release the online CWI Pre-Seminar through American Welding Online. The pre-seminar is composed of six individual courses Welding Fundamentals, Safety in Welding, Math for Welders Level 1, Understanding Welding Symbols, Metallurgy for the Non-Metallurgist: Fundamentals, and The Science of Non-Destructive Testing. These seminars combine 57 hours of e-Learning content and are designed to prepare users for the fundamentals (Part A) section of the CWI.

Participants that sign up for the CWI Pre-Seminar will have access to the six courses listed above for a ninety day period. This will allow participants to complete the training in the months leading up to their in-person CWI seminar and exam.

Do you need the CWI-Pre Seminar?
This will depend on the individual. The current week-long CWI Seminar is a review of the CWI Body of Knowledge (B5.1, Table 1). It is designed to fill in any knowledge gaps before taking the CWI exam. The seminar is not designed to teach participants the entire topic from beginning to end. There is no way to teach the entire CWI Body of Knowledge from beginning to end in a forty hour course.

For example, the CWI seminar covers welding symbols in a one to two hour block. There is no way to cover all 130 pages of A2.4 Standard Symbols for Welding, Brazing, and Nondestructive Examination in two hours. The Understanding Welding Symbols online course offered through AWO contains 10 hours of content, and takes the participants approximately 15 to 18 hours to complete.

In contrast, the CWI Pre-Seminar is not constrained by class times or travel schedules. Participants can take their time and learn the information on their own schedule and pace.

How long does it take to complete the CWI Pre-Seminar?
This varies per individual. On average, individuals can expect to spend between 75 and 85 hours on the pre-seminar if completing all sections of all six courses. Most persons however, will not need to go through the courses to this extent. The AWO courses are designed so that you need very little to no prior knowledge of the subject to understand the material. Therefore, you might not need to review every module of every course. One of the main reasons we build American Welding Online was to provide you, the learner, with complete control over your educational experience. With the CWI Pre-Seminar, you will be able to do as much or as little as you need to prepare for the CWI Seminar.

Is the CWI Pre-Seminar mandatory?
No. The CWI Pre-Seminar is not required to take the CWI exam, though we highly recommend that participants take the online courses. Not only will it help you fill in gaps in your knowledge, it will also ensure that you are fully prepared to get the most out of the CWI Seminar by covering many of the basics that participants are expected to know beforehand.

How do you sign up?
Registration for the CWI Pre-Seminar opens on July 1, 2013. In order to register for the pre-seminar, open the AWS seminar registration webpage ( and fill out the information.

Check out Part 7 of this blog series for more information on the CWI Pre-Seminar.

David Hernandez

28 thoughts on “How to Prepare for the Certified Welding Inspector Exam Part 6: Do I Need the Pre-Seminar?”

  1. I have been a welder for 23 yrs now. I am 44yrs old and I still enjoy it.But, I think it’s time I moved on and up! I am interested and am researching about taking my CWI exam. Now, how can I become a member of the AWS?
    Thank you for your time.

  2. I took the CWI exam on June 15, 2013. This was the second time that I did not pass this exam within a one year time period. The first time was on August 2013. I am willing to take the CWI exam for a third time on September 2013 or December 2013. I just knew from AWS web site that I am required to aquire a 40 hours training course before I can apply to CWI exam for the third time. Can I have this 40 hours training course from my employer-Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT). or can I have it from SONSET consultants who give this training on line.
    Thank you very much

  3. I am interested in taking the pre seminar and exam for pipeline welding inspectors. please advise me on the best course.

    1. Hi Angela,

      I would recommend you look at the Online Pre-Seminar as a starting point. After completing those courses, I would sign up for the AWS CWI program with a focus on API 1104. If you need any information on how to do that, please let me know.


  4. Dear Sir,

    I had attended the course on Welding Inspector & Quality Control by American Soceity of Metal conducted in Singapore Regional Training Centre under DNV class soceity in year 2001. I am interested in AWS full course and after I have completed the e-learning and passed all tests, may I know what type of certificate will I be issued?

    Eric Chan

    1. Hi Eric,

      After completing the e-learning seminars you will receive an AWS credential in the form of a Certificate of Completion as well as the predetermined number of Professional Development Hours.



  5. My husband (age 59) is interested in leaving his current occupation (dry wall finishing) to become a welder. He has no experience whatsoever, but is very healthy and is a dedicated and hard worker. How should he get started?

    1. Cecile,

      I would recommend that he look into some welding programs in your area. The Welding School locator will help you locate schools in your area. Learning the art of welding will be critical for his transition to welding. I would also recommend the Welding Fundamentals online course through AWO as a good introduction to the science of welding.



  6. I would like to become a certified welding inspector but I don’t have experience in welding, could you give me advise where to start. I am planning to have the e-learning seminar, would that qualify me to take the certified welding inspector exam?


  7. I am preparing to get my CWI in structural,what handbook do you recommend to study on my own to prepare? I have been a welder for 28 years so I am well versed in the trade…thanx

    1. Hello Jim,

      You will find the information you need in Volumes one and two of the AWS Welding Handbook.

      Thank you for your intertest.

      Carlos Plaza

  8. I am going to register to take the CWI test October 6-12. I have been in the trade since 1988. I know I need study material. Could you advise me on what books to buy…


    1. Hello James,

      Annex A of AWS B5.1 Specification for the Qualification of welding Inspectors provides a list of publications from which questions for the CWI examination may be taken. Here is a link to a free pdf version of B5.1:

      It may also be helful to check out the blog section of this website for a series of postings that deal the ins and outs of the CWI exam.

      Hope this helps,

  9. dear sir
    last 15 year iam working a welder. iam engoing the job .now iam looking become a welding inspector.
    iam leaving in UAE can you give me seminar detaile inn uae

  10. Where are the rest of the blog posts? I am preparing for the test and this was really interesting. All I can find, is up to part 6.

  11. hai sir
    i was planing to do cws course i don’t have any experience related for this even i have been wasted for my time after completed degree one of my friend told me that do this course you can have best job so i would like to do. please suggest me what should i do for clear this examination …

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