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.
Quality Engineer – Welding
The Raymond Corporation