How to become a Welding Inspector?

The art of welding plays a crucial role in our daily lives, as it involves joining metals using heat. To ensure the safety and quality of welds, certified welding inspectors are responsible for enforcing strict guidelines and safety regulations. If you aspire to become a welding inspector, this article will guide you through the necessary steps to achieve your goal.

American Welding Society Welding Inspector Levels

The American Welding Society (AWS) offers several levels of certification for welding inspectors. These levels are designed to assess an individual’s knowledge and skills in the field of welding inspection. Here are the different levels of AWS welding inspector certification:

  1. Certified Welding Inspector (CWI): This is the entry-level certification offered by AWS. CWIs are responsible for inspecting and ensuring the quality of welds in various industries. They must pass a comprehensive exam that covers topics such as welding processes, codes and standards, and inspection techniques.
  2. Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI): This is an advanced level of certification for experienced CWIs who have demonstrated a higher level of knowledge and expertise. SCWIs are typically involved in supervisory roles and have additional responsibilities, such as training and mentoring other inspectors.
  3. Certified Associate Welding Inspector (CAWI): This certification is designed for individuals who have limited experience in welding inspection but want to start their career in this field. CAWIs work under the supervision of CWIs and assist in conducting inspections.

How to become a welding inspector?

To obtain the CWI Certification, individuals aspiring to become CWI Candidates must successfully pass three exams:

  1. the Part A Fundamentals Exam,
  2. the Part B Practical Exam, and
  3. the Part C Code Book Exam.

The Part A (Fundamentals) and Part C (Code Book) exams are conducted by AWS through computer-based testing (CBT) at Prometric Test Centers. On the other hand, AWS administers the Part B (Practical) exam at various locations throughout the United States where they hold educational seminars. It is recommended that candidates schedule their Part A and Part C exams with Prometric as soon as they receive their Confirmation Letter to take Part B.

Education and experience requirements for AWS-CWI Welding Inspector

Minimum EducationMinimum Work Experience
Bachelor or higher degree in welding engineering or
welding technology – four (4) years maximum substitution
Minimum of one (1) year welding based work experience
Associate or higher degree in welding or non-welding
related engineering technology, engineering, or a
physical science – three (3) years maximum substitution
Minimum of two (2) years welding based work experience
Engineering/Technical courses that can be applied to
Bachelor or higher degree in Welding – two (2) years maximum substitution
Minimum of three (3) years welding based work experience
Trade/Vocational courses – one (1) year maximum substitution for
successfully completed courses
Minimum of four (4) years welding based work experience
High school diploma or approved high school equivalency diplomaMinimum of five (5) years welding based work experience
8th grade level of schoolingMinimum of nine (9) years welding based work experience
Less than 8th gradeMinimum of twelve (12) years welding based work experience

How to apply for Welding Inspector Exam

The American Welding Society provides new applicants with the chance to utilize the online Certification Application Portal. Through this portal, applicants can input their information, submit necessary documents and a recent photo, sign up for seminars and courses, and make the required payment.

Before starting the application process, please carefully go through the submission requirements listed below. Make sure you have all the necessary documents prepared before you begin.

Furthermore, please familiarize yourself with the education and work experience criteria that must be fulfilled in order to become a CWI candidate. All applicants are advised to review and fulfill the following prerequisites prior to commencing the online Certification Application Portal process.

AWS- CWI required application forms and related documents

Step 1:

Submit Your Application To begin your journey towards becoming a certified welding inspector, you must complete the online application form available on the American Welding Society (AWS) website or you can book the course through an authorized AWS-CWI Institute. It is advisable to submit your application at least six weeks before the exam date. Along with the form, include the application fee of $1150 for AWS members or $1,415 for non-members. Additionally, you will need to choose a code test subject, which determines the type of welding you plan to specialize in for inspections such as AWS D1.1 or API 1104, for example.

Step 2:

Select an Exam Site On the application form, indicate your preferred exam locations in order of priority. AWS conducts exams throughout the year in various cities across the country via Pearson Vue. You have to take the Part-A and C online while Part-B is practical exam and need to be taken at the approved location.

Step 3:

Fulfill Education and Work Experience Requirements The number of years of work experience required to become a welding inspector depends on your level of education. If you hold an associate degree or higher, three years of experience is necessary. A high school education requires five years, while at least an eighth-grade education necessitates nine years of experience. If you have less than an eighth-grade education, you will need 12 years of work experience.

Step 4:

Complete Welding Inspector Training Although not mandatory, undergoing welding inspector training can significantly enhance your chances of passing the AWS exam. Vocational, technical, and welding schools offer specialized classes that prepare students for the certified welding inspector exam. AWS also provides five-day seminars that include the exam on the final day. These training programs cover various topics, including code enforcement, welding inspection documentation, safe welding practices, and destructive testing. Hands-on training is often included, allowing students to gain practical experience with inspection tools.

Step 5:

Pass the AWS Certified Welding Inspector Exam The AWS exam consists of three parts, and a minimum grade of 72 percent is required to pass. In addition to the written exam, you must also pass a vision test. The exam includes a 150-question fundamentals of welding inspection section, a practical application segment where you perform hands-on inspections, and an open-book code application test. Thorough preparation and familiarity with the topics covered in the training classes are essential for success.

Step 6:

Renew Your Certification Certified welding inspectors are required to renew their certification every three years. To renew, you must submit a notarized renewal application along with the renewal fee of $445 for AWS members or $660 for non-members. Renewals do not involve any additional tests, except for the vision test. There are no specific continuing education requirements, but staying updated with industry advancements is highly recommended.


Becoming a certified welding inspector requires dedication, training, and a commitment to upholding safety standards. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can embark on a rewarding career in welding inspection. Remember, continuous learning and staying informed about industry developments will help you excel in this field. Good luck on your journey to becoming a certified welding inspector!