Welding Student Guide to AWS Welding Certification

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Many current, aspiring, or graduated welding students may wonder whether they should plan to get a welding certification from the American Welding Society (AWS).

What Is American Welding Society Certification?

The American Welding Society is a nonprofit organization in the United States that offers professional membership, training, certifications, conferences, and other industry opportunities for professional welders. Founded in 1919, AWS is well-known and trusted in the welding field.1

AWS certification is a professional designation from the organization. It signifies that a welder has passed a certain test and can perform certain duties. Additional credentials or specializations can sometimes be added to a certification to show additional skillsets.2

Why Get American Welding Society Certified?

AWS certification is a type of credential that may help job applicants indicate to an employer that they can perform the required work duties.2 Some employers require AWS certification, either generally or in certain specializations, depending on the actual nature of the welding work and company policy.3

A certification could increase salary potential and indicate willingness to succeed in the field, too.2 Employers often like to see AWS certification to ensure that the worker is able to adhere to national standards of welding quality, which increases performance and safety, reduces liability, and reduces training costs for the company.

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AWS certification helps welding job applicants stand out from the crowd, display their skills, and assure employers that they can perform specific welding job functions.

How Many Levels of American Welding Society Certifications Are There?

There are more than a dozen different types of AWS certifications and endorsements. including:4

  • Certified Welder
  • Certified Welding Inspector
  • Certified Welding Educator
  • Certified Welding Supervisor
  • Certified Welding Sales Representative
  • Certified Welding Engineer

Each certification is specially focused around a different area of expertise, and each requires its own set of skills, experience, or qualifications.4

Which American Welding Society Certification Should I Get?

If you are either graduating from or enrolling in welding school to begin a career as a welder, the first AWS certification you should plan to get is the Certified Welder (CW) program. This is the foundational level of welding certification. There are no perquisite experience or courses required to be eligible to take the exam. Anyone who wants to prove their welding skills can take the test. The certification is entirely based on performance.5

The CW test requires welders to perform welding procedures related to structural steel, petroleum pipelines, chemical refinery, and sheet metal. If a company requires a welder to pass an AWS test during the application process, they might have exact specifications for which test to take.5

Otherwise, a welder can choose to take the test independently as they choose to prove they have specific types of welding skills.5 There are different tests you can take depending on the skills you wish to display, including SMAW, FCAW, and GTAW welding practices with various filler metals, base metals, positions, and thicknesses.6

How Much Does American Welding Society Certification Cost?

Each certification has its own pricing structure. The cost to send in a CW application is $50, regardless of whether you are an AWS member or not. However, as of 2021, you will need to contact an Accredited Test Facility (ATF) directly for CW exam pricing.7

At Tulsa Welding School (TWS) in Jacksonville, Florida, for example, which is an Accredited Testing Facility, the CW test costs $200 for current or past attendees of the school and $500 for non-attendees.

Where To Get American Welding Society Certified?

You must make an appointment with an AWS-Accredited Testing Facility.8 You can search for Accredited Test Facilities here.

Tulsa Welding School at Jacksonville is an Accredited Test Facility. The most requested certifications at this location are:

  • 3/8” Plate w/backing, SMAW (E7018), 3G/4G
  • 3/8” Plate w/backing, FCAW, 3G/4G
  • 3/8” Plate, SMAW (E6010 Root, E7018 Rem.), 3G/4G
  • 6” Sch. 40 Carbon Pipe, SMAW (E6010 Root, E7018 Rem.), 6G
  • 6” Sch. 40 Carbon Pipe, GTAW/SMAW, 6G
  • 2” Sch. 80 Carbon Pipe, GTAW, 6G

You can learn more about certifications and how to make an appointment for a Certified Welder test at TWS by calling the ATF office directly: 1-904-345-5593.

How To Prepare For American Welding Society Certification

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While the CW program does not require any specific courses or previous experience welding, it is understood that if you are going to take the test, you should be familiar with welding methods and processes.

Where can one learn how to weld? Vocational schools such as TWS provide the equipment, training, methodology, and practice for students to learn the basics of welding.

Anyone who aspires to get a CW certification should be prepared to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Identify proper welding materials.
  • Understand and follow safety protocols.
  • Know how to use a welding machine.
  • Be able to assemble welding joints.
  • Discern the right welding position for the task.
  • Follow all welding procedures relevant to the test.

For information on how to enroll in a vocational welding program, call Admissions at TWS: 1-855-806-4921. TWS offers multiple options for welding training, including the 7-month Professional Welder program, which offers a foundation in SMAW, MIG, TIG, and other common welding practices. Program courses include a combination of class lecture hours and hands-on practice hours, with the bulk of the time spent practicing welding techniques in the welding lab.

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