Many welders start out without any long-term career goals. However, the field of welding offers many different paths, both in terms of jobs and industries. There are pipefitters, iron welders, sheet metal workers, robotic weld technicians, welding equipment salespersons, welding instructors, welding engineers, and the list goes on. One of the most popular options for welders looking to take the next step in their careers is the role of welding inspector. The AWS Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) certification is an internationally recognized accreditation that can open the door to a highly rewarding and lucrative profession. However, many people thinking about investing the time and money required to become a CWI, aren’t fully informed about what a CWI actually does.
“A lot of people think a CWI just looks at a finished weld,” said long-time Welding Inspector Jackie Morris, but this is simply not the case. According to Morris, it’s one of the most common misconceptions about the field. CWIs have one of the busiest and most diverse careers in welding. A CWI is usually expected to handle qualification records, oversee non-destructive testing, make sure proper materials are available during tests, and much more. Morris adds, “If your job is just looking at a finished weld, then economically speaking, something is screwed up.”
In addition to the tasks already mentioned, a CWI is expected to:
Be a Safety Watchdog
You’ll need to make sure that all welding work complies with your employer’s safety regulations, as well as the safety regulations stipulated by local, state and federal governments. If you’re working for an Accredited Testing Facility, you can also expect to help to develop the facility’s quality control program.
Welding Procedure Specifications, building and welding plans, equipment calibration, and welding materials. You’ll be responsible for verifying that all of these documents are correct. You’ll also be instrumental in the development of WPSs.
Inspect the Pre-welding Environment (not just the post-weld)
It’ll be your responsibility to inspect base and consumable materials. You’ll also need to make sure that the correct cutting methods, joint positions, welder settings and even things like clamp placement and alignment are correct.
Monitor the Welding Process
You’ll need to keep an eye on the welding process throughout production to make sure that everything proceeds smoothly and that everyone continues to follow the expectations of the standard.
Conduct inspections, and identify and supervise repairs.
Certified Welding Inspectors have a lot of responsibility, but that’s largely because they’re in a position of accountability. CWIs are responsible to the public for the quality of the things they help produce. Bridges, elevators, buildings, vehicles, it’s the CWI’s job to ensure that these things are assembled correctly and okay for public use. CWIs are also responsible to the employers who sign their checks and have a duty to keep the profession respectable. Don’t let all this responsibility shake you from considering a career as a CWI. Inspectors often work on teams, and the responsibility isn’t without its rewards. In our next blog CWI Jackie Morris will identify some of those rewards.