Here at the American Welding Society (AWS), we often get questions about supplemental credentials called endorsements. With that in mind, we’ve put together the following list of questions and answers to help shed light on the nature, purpose, and value of AWS endorsements.
Q: What are endorsements?
A: Endorsements are supplemental inspection credentials available to all AWS Certified Welding Inspectors (CWIs) and Senior Certified Welding Inspectors (SCWIs). To obtain an endorsement, a candidate must sit for an exam based on a code or topic area. Please see the AWS Endorsements Table for a complete list of available endorsements, as well as additional testing information.
Q: What does an endorsement exam entail?
A: Most endorsement exams are open-book tests consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions based on 4 topic areas covered in each code. For all but two of the exams you can expect the following distribution of questions: at least 10% will be based on material and design, 30% will cover fabrication, 25% will deal with inspection, and 30% will be about qualification. Students have two hours to complete the exam and must score 72% or above to pass. However, you will find some differences among the endorsement exams. For example, the Structural Drawing Reading exam follows a closed-book format and consists of 30 multiple-choice questions. Moreover, this exam is based on blueprint reading skills as opposed to a particular code. For more details about a particular endorsement, click on its name in the AWS Endorsements Table.
Q: What is the purpose of endorsements?
A: Endorsements demonstrate that an individual is familiar with the rules governing a particular branch of welding. An endorsement can broaden the credentials of a CWI, allowing him or her to perform inspections that were previously off limits due to customer or jurisdictional requirements. For example, a customer in the aviation industry may require that both welders and inspectors conform to the qualification specifications outlined in the D17.1 Specification for Fusion Welding for Aerospace Applications.
Q: Can endorsements satisfy the CWI 9-Year recertification requirement?
A: Yes. Obtaining a passing score on any AWS endorsement exam, except Structural Bolting Inspection, satisfies the CWI 9-year recertification requirement. However, it’s important to note that for recertification purposes, candidates cannot take an endorsement exam to the same codebook used to complete Part C of their CWI certification exam. Finally, if you look at the AWS Endorsements Table, you’ll notice that most endorsements are worth 40 personal development hours. These PDHs will definitely count towards the 80 required for 9-year recertification if you opt to satisfy the recertification requirement by accumulating development hours. However, simply passing one of the eligible endorsement exams will automatically satisfy the 9-Year recertification requirement.
Q: Can someone who is not a CWI take an endorsement exam?
A: Yes. Non-CWIs who simply want to familiarize themselves with a particular codebook can take a standalone endorsement exam. If successful, these candidates will only receive a certificate of completion. Moreover, a non-CWI who passes a standalone endorsement exam will still have to take Part C (codebook portion) of the CWI exam if they later choose to apply for CWI certification.
Q: How are endorsements recognized?
A: A current CWI/SCWI can obtain a secondary wallet card that lists the earned endorsement. Of course, the endorsement becomes part of the CWIs record at AWS, and is easily searchable on AWS QuickCheck. Individuals may also want to list this and other professional achievements on AWS WeldLink, a career planning and management system specifically designed to bring together individuals, businesses, and schools in the welding industry.
Q: How do you prepare for an AWS Endorsement exam?
A: Codebook exams are not about memorizing each and every subclause. They are about effectively and efficiently using the index, table of contents, figures, and tables to locate the information required to answer multiple-choice questions in a timed testing environment. This can seem like a daunting task, given the complexity and/or size of most codes.
However, AWS Learning (AWSL) has developed tried and true strategies to help candidates wrap their minds around a codebook and tackle an endorsement exam with the knowledge and skills required to succeed. AWSL currently offers instructor-led code clinics to prepare individuals for the D1.1 Structural Steel and the API 1104 Pipeline codebook exams. AWSL has also just released a first-of-its-kind online D17.1 Aerospace Code Clinic. This comprehensive, 4-hour course employs easy-to-understand language, audio narration, and guided questions to help participants familiarize themselves with the code and quickly locate relevant subclauses, charts, and tables.
For more detailed information about endorsements, visit AWS CWI/SCWI Endorsements. You can also download copies of AWS QC1:2007 Standard for AWS Certification of Welding Inspectors and AWS B5.1 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Inspectors for terms, definitions, qualifications, and requirements regarding endorsements.