Welder Qualification vs. Certification

As a corporate representative for a global manufacturing company, I visit and review suppliers that provide weldments. Most suppliers are usually small when compared to my company. They have a niche and are able to provide a quality product at a competitive cost.  All of these companies have been in business for years and they have several well trained and qualified welders. However, not all companies will have certified welders.

Initially, a lot of people think qualified and certified are the same. They are not. In broad terms, a qualification may be determined by the employer or customer in accordance with his or her own documented requirements or the documented standards of others. Certification by the American Welding Society attests to and certifies the appropriate experience and successful completion of an examination on the subjects included in a specified body of knowledge that is part of a nationally recognized standard. Check out this AWS White Paper for a more detailed discussion on the difference between qualification and certification.

I might visit a company where a welder has been welding pipe products for thirty to forty years. This person may be an expert at welding multiple materials, working in different positions, overcoming different obstacles and providing x-ray quality products. He may even have passed his company’s internal training and testing program that qualifies him to their standards or outside standards. However he cannot be said to be certified unless he has tested to a nationally recognized standard.

As a customer walking into these small businesses, one of the first things I ask for are certifications. Usually, about half of these companies have an excellent program in place. That is, one that trains and tests to a nationally recognized standard. Then there are those that use a purely internal testing program as their certification. When I delve into the type of work they are doing and what type of test they had their welders take, I find that those welders are far from being certified to a nationally recognized standard for the work they are actually doing. In all cases, after brief conversations with their management team, gaps are identified and plans are put into place.

Patrick Snyder
Quality Engineer – Welding
The Raymond Corporation

 

13 thoughts on “Welder Qualification vs. Certification”

  1. I have this argument all the time with people, that a qualification does not certify someone. I jus moved to Roanoke Va and I am teaching welding at Roanoke City Public schools and at Virginia Western community College. They both had a CWI testing students and telling them they are certified. I told them they can not certify a welder unless you are an ATF with aws. A lot of students were miss lead and companys would not accept there paper work for a certification. Thank you so much for publishing this.

  2. I may have read something wrong but it appears that you indicate the only certification that is related to welding is that done by an AWS accredited test facility. If that is true, were there no “certified welders” prior to the ATF scheme?
    Again I may have missed something as I was eating lunch.

    1. Welders that receive a certification from AWS can only do so through an Accredited Test Facility. However, welders can be qualified and receive a certification from another institution or company.

      1. However whether you use an AWS atf or you complete the test coupons at a vocational school and allow an outside CWI to test your coupons; both places are conforming to the same code book. So you would get the same qualification record regardless as to which party you use. Correct or not? The code book can be interpreted five different ways if five different people read it. Very confusing.

  3. I may have misinterpreted. When you refer to Nationally Recognized Standards are you also referring to non AWS documents such as industry codes and standards?

    If so then I am a little straighter on what you are saying. My interpretation has been that when someone by signature indicates that another individual has met the requirements of some documented requirement, that is certification.

    Here is a page where I have a link to a presentation I have used on a few occasions
    http://weldingclassroom.org/index.php/welding-info/certification/welder-certification/

  4. For the past year or so Ive been hearing about an organization called NCCER.They train individuals in welding.They have a written exam and a performance evaluation.How does this program differ from yours and are their qualifications to the same standards as yours and if so are they qualifications or certifications……….

    1. The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) develops curriculum and training materials for many different fields. Their welding curriculum is based on the American Welding Society’s SENSE program, a comprehensive set of minimum Standards and Guidelines for Welding Education programs. They provide training and certifications through Accredited Training Sponsors whereas AWS relies on AWS Accredited Test Facilities. In short, AWS is an accrediting and standards producing body that specializes in the welding industry. Therefore, when it comes to welding, the argument is often made that it’s training and credentialing programs carry more weight with employers in the fabricating and manufacturing industries.

      1. However whether you use an AWS atf or you complete the test coupons at a vocational school and allow an outside CWI test your coupons; both places are conforming to the same code book. So you would get the same qualification record regardless as to which party you use. Correct or not? The code book can be interpreted five different ways if five different people read it. Very confusing.

    2. So after someone completes the nccer welding program what to the receive? Do they receive a certification approved by aws or what?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *