CWI seminars are popular these days. Whether it’s the one-week, intensive seminar hosted by the American Welding Society (AWS), or one of several programs offered by commercial organizations, seats fill up with individuals eager to take the next step in their welding and fabrication careers. But who is a CWI seminar for? Is it for welders who are exploring the possibility of becoming welding inspectors? Is it for engineers who want to gain a better understanding of how their procedures and designs are applied and evaluated? No. CWI seminars are actually designed for individuals who already have the knowledge and skills to be a welding inspector. Without prior knowledge or experience, even the greatest welder, engineer, or robot tech cannot learn everything they need to know about weld inspection in a one or two-week course—no matter how intensive.
This misunderstanding about the nature and purpose of CWI seminars probably stems from a lack of appreciation for the wide breadth of knowledge required of a welding inspector. Among other things, welding inspectors (and therefore CWI test-takers) need to be familiar with:
- the principles and application of the most common welding processes
- the interpretation of technical drawings and welding symbols
- WPSs, PQRs, contracts, and all the other documents that contractors, engineers, welders, and inspectors use to communicate vital information
- the heat control and metallurgy of low alloy and carbon steels
- the most common nondestructive testing methods and visual inspection tools
- the principles of destructive testing; welder qualification
- how to use a welding code and inspection tools to assess a weld’s suitability for service
As we’ve already surmised, a CWI instructor cannot possibly teach this large body of knowledge and skills, even if their seminar ran for a month or more. Rather, CWI seminars are designed to help prospective CWIs review the CWI Body of Knowledge and familiarize themselves with the specific demands of the CWI Exam. The CWI exam is rigorous because it is designed to assess whether a person truly has the knowledge, skills, and experience to inspect welds on the buildings, bridges, cars, planes, gas pipes, etc., that our friends and family use every day.
About now, you may be asking, “If CWI seminars are meant for people who already have the knowledge and skills to be a welding inspector, where do I get the knowledge and skills in the first place?” We are glad you asked! Here is a list of steps that you can take to begin acquiring the knowledge and skills you need to take advantage of a CWI seminar and sit for the AWS CWI Exam:
- Visit the Welding Inspector Career Pathway webpage for a comprehensive overview of the knowledge, skills, and steps required to become a CWI.
- See our three-part blog series for helpful hints on How to Prepare for the CWI Exam.
- Check out the AWS Certified Welding Inspector Certification webpage. In the documents section of this page you can download free copies of QC1 – Standard for the AWS Certification of Welding Inspectors, B5.1 – Specification for the Qualification of Welding Inspectors, and the CWI Body of Knowledge. These documents outline the rules, regulations, and structure of the CWI exam.
- Check out online resources like ESAB University, NDT Resources, AWS online courses, and AWS blogs.
- Read publications, like the Welding Handbook and Inspection Trends that explain the science and application of welding processes and weld test methods.
- Borrow or purchase a copy of the D1.1, API 1104, or D17.1 codes and view an AWS online code clinic to learn how to navigate it.
- Shadow a welding inspector on the job.
- Spend some time in a weld test lab and learn about what they do there, perhaps even help out.
- Become an AWS member to receive discounts on all AWS products, receive a monthly copy of the Welding Journal, and join discussions about getting started in welding inspection on the AWS Member Forum.
When you are really ready to sign up for a CWI seminar, visit the AWS Certified Welding Inspector Seminar webpage for a convenient time and location. If you are ready to attend a CWI Seminar right now, we encourage you to check out the AWS 8-week Online CWI Seminar. It’s a new program that combines the advantages of live instruction with the convenience of online learning. It’s completely home-based so you won’t have to spend time away from work or family. However, it features real-time, web-based sessions with an AWS instructor so you can interact with a teacher in real-time. Moreover, all study materials (books, practice tests, and inspection tools) are delivered directly to your home shortly after you register. Yes. Unlike most seminars, you’ll finally have plenty of time to read the course materials before class starts.
We would wish you good luck, but it’s really all about preparation, so happy researching, studying, and training!