Welder Qualification vs. Certification

welder certification

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Welders are often asked to demonstrate their skills during job interviews. The test welders take is called a welder performance qualification. The written record of the welder’s demonstrated ability serve as his or her welding certification. Read on to learn more about the differences between welder qualification and certification. 1

Difference between Qualification and Certification

Welder qualification is part of the process of becoming certified in a specific welding process. Both employers and the American Welding Society (AWS) offer welder qualification tests and certifications. The AWS certification is more standardized and covers subject areas employers have not traditionally tested on, such as practical knowledge.

Employer Welder Qualification and Certification

Employers have used their own qualification and certification for years to verify a welder is competent in specific process on a specific type of weld. This helps employers determine whether or not a welder is qualified for a certain assignment or job.

It’s important to note that employers don’t always require welders to be certified. Some only ask that job applicants pass a welder performance qualification before hiring them. In this situation, those who pass the test would be considered “qualified welders,” not “certified welders.” The main difference is that certified welders have written records of their test results.

AWS Qualification and Certification

The AWS Certified Welder program verifies an individual has entry-level welder skills. Like the employer qualification, AWS asks welders to demonstrate their skills in a hands-on test. Welders must show that they can follow QC7 and safety standards when preparing a welding machine and welding joints. Welders usually test in accordance with one of the following QC7 standards.

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QC7 Standards

  • Standard for AWS Certified Welders
  • Supplement C for Sheet Metal Test Requirements for Welder Performance Qualification
  • Supplement F for Chemical Plant and Petroleum Refinery Piping
  • Supplement G for Generic Supplement for AWS Performance Qualification Test 2

Practical Knowledge

Unlike most employer qualifications, the AWS tests welders on practical knowledge as it is assumed that welders can produce a certain weld have the technical knowledge.

Subjects Covered

  • Welding and Cutting Theory
  • Welding and Cutting Inspection and Testing
  • Welding and Cutting Terms and Definitions
  • Base and Filler Metal Identification
  • Common Welding Process Variables
  • Electrical Fundamentals
  • Drawing and Welding Symbol Interpretation
  • Fabrication Principles and Practices
  • Safety Practices

This is a written test requiring correct answers on 90 percent of the safety section and 75 percent of the practical knowledge section to pass. 3

Benefits of Certification

Certification proves to employers that welders are proficient in specific welding processes. AWS certification also attests to welders’ knowledge of safety practices and industry standards. Learning these skills and standards in a welding training program can help prepare welders for the qualification test they must pass to become certified.

Additional Sources

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