How to Become a CWI (Certified Welding Inspector)

Becoming a CWI, or Certified Welding Inspector, is not an easy task. You have to go through a couple of steps, including passing a six-hour certification exam. However, going through the process is worth it because you can earn more money and increase your career options.

In this article, we’ll go through each step of the process along with some helpful tips to make your life easier. Let’s get started.

1. Assess your level of education and work experience.

To qualify for the CWI certification, you need a combination of education and work experience. The more education you have, the less work experience you need. For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree in welding engineering, you only need one year of work experience.

Conversely, the more work experience you have, the less education you need. For instance, if you have five years of work experience, you only need a high school diploma or approved high school equivalency diploma.

Also, the work experience you submit must be related to welding, steel, or steel quality control/inspection to qualify for the certification requirements.

For more details, see this table from the American Welding Society (AWS). AWS is organization that offers the CWI certification.

If you don’t currently meet the work experience and education requirements, you can still take the CWI exam. If you pass the certification exam with a 72% or higher, you can become certified as a Certified Associate Welding Inspector (CAWI).

Many companies will work with a CAWI and help them get the necessary work experience. After you get the necessary experience as a CAWI, you can submit an application form and fee to upgrade to CWI status without having to take the test again.

2. Fulfill the missing requirements.

Now that you know what AWS requires for the CWI certification, it’s time to create a strategic plan for fulfilling those requirements.

Depending on your situation, this could mean going back to school. Your local community college or university may have classes or degrees to get you closer to qualifying for the certification.

Trade and vocational courses can substitute for one year of work experience. Engineering and technical courses that can be applied to bachelor’s or higher degree in welding can substitute for two years of work experience.

To substitute for three years of work experience, earn an associate’s or higher degree in welding. Also, engineering technology, engineering, and physical science degrees count too.

If you already have a decent amount of education, then it’s time to search for a welding related job. If you already have a welding based job, you may just need to continue working a few more months or years.

Or maybe you already have the necessary education and work experience requirements, in which case, go to the next step.

3. Get an eye examination.

Welding is a visually intensive task. Therefore, AWS requires you to get an eye examination to demonstrate good close-up vision and assess any color blindness.

When you go to the examination, make sure to bring the Visual Acuity Form found on the CWI Initial Application. The eye examiner will be the one to complete the form.

You can take the examination with or without corrective lenses. The passing score is Jaeger J2 at 12 inches or greater.

This step is important because AWS will not release exam results without a completed Visual Acuity Record on file.

4. Study for the CWI exam.

Given that the CWI exam is six hours long, it probably won’t surprise you to know that studying for the exam is the most important step in becoming a Certified Welding Inspector.

The pass rate for the test is not very high because it has a lot of material to learn and many test takers do not spend enough time studying.

To adequately prepare for the exam, you should spend many weeks going over the study material. The AWS B5.1 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Inspectors, AWS QC1 Specification for AWS Certification of Welding Inspectors, and AWS Body of Knowledge has the list of subjects that will be on the test.

During this step, many people get help by taking a exam prep training course. These courses can be useful because you get access to a teacher who has passed the exam and understands the material.

We invite you to check out our online prep course. It has over 80 hours of teaching that you can do at your own pace, multiple practice tests that simulate the real thing, and many quizzes to track your learning progress along the way.

5. Apply for the exam.

In this step, you’ll be filling out the CWI Initial Application. The application form is where you’ll list your education and work experience. Also, there is an employment verification section that your supervisor or personnel manager will need to fill out.

To complete the section about exam locations, check out the Certified Welding Inspector Schedule to see your options. Make sure to choose three locations because your first or even second location may not be available due to lack of space.

Also, note the deadline date for each location. To qualify for a location, AWS must receive your application by the deadline date of the location.

Finally, do not book a hotel or a flight until you have received confirmation of a location via email from AWS.

6. Pass the exam.

If you’ve gotten this far in the process, all that’s left to become a CWI is passing the exam.

Test day is do-or-die time. However, you’ve spent weeks studying. You may have taken a CWI prep course. Therefore, you can be confident instead of anxious when you take the test. You’ve done the necessary hard work to put yourself in a position to succeed.

Here’s one final tip. Make sure to get enough sleep the night before the exam because you don’t want to be sleep deprived. Getting enough sleep is key to having a clear mind to pass the exam.