Welding Articles

AWS Welding Certification: Everything You Need to Know

Apr 16, 2024

aws welding certification

If you're looking to climb the ranks in the welding industry, securing an AWS Welding Certification should be your next move. Committing to this certification can boost your job prospects and increase your earning potential. 

The American Welding Society offers this respected credential, signaling a high standard of skill and knowledge that employers value. This guide will provide a clear breakdown of the steps you need to take to achieve your AWS Welding Certification, distinguish the various certification levels, and detail the prerequisites you'll need to fulfill.

We will review the necessary study materials and courses that equip you for the exam, detail the hands-on experience you should accumulate, and discuss the recertification process to keep your skills sharp and current. Beyond passing the exam, we'll look into how an AWS Certification can enhance your daily work and unlock opportunities within the industry. Whether you're entering the field or aiming to substantiate your expertise as a welder, this guide is a vital tool to appreciate the value of AWS Certification and its transformative effect on your professional trajectory.

AWS Welding Certification Overview

AWS Welding Certification is a program that certifies welders according to industry standards. This certification is recognized globally and provides a standard for employers to determine the skill level of a welder. AWS offers a variety of certifications, including Certified Welder (CW), Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), and Certified Welding Educator (CWE).

The certification process involves both a written and practical exam. The written exam covers welding theory and safety, while the practical exam tests the welder's ability to perform various welding techniques. The certification is valid for three years, after which the welder must retest to maintain their certification.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for AWS Welding Certification, you must meet certain criteria. The requirements vary depending on the certification level you are seeking. For example, to become a Certified Welder (CW), you must have a high school diploma or equivalent and pass a welding test. On the other hand, to become a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), you must have a combination of education and experience in welding, as well as pass a written and practical exam.

AWS Certification Process

If you are interested in obtaining an AWS welding certification, you must follow a specific process that includes an application, examination, and certification renewal.

Application Procedure

The first step in the certification process is to complete an application form. You can download the application from the AWS website or request a paper copy. The application requires you to provide personal information, such as your name, address, and contact information, as well as information about your welding experience and education.

Once you have completed the application, you will need to submit it along with the appropriate fees. AWS will review your application and notify you of your eligibility to take the certification exam.

Examination Content

The AWS welding certification exam consists of both a written and practical exam. The written exam measures your knowledge of welding theory, safety, and welding symbols. The practical exam tests your ability to perform various welding techniques, such as shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, and gas metal arc welding.

To prepare for the exam, you should review the AWS Welding Handbook and take practice exams. You may also want to consider taking a welding course or attending a welding school to improve your skills.

Certification Renewal

Once you have obtained your AWS welding certification, you must renew it every three years. To renew your certification, you must complete a renewal application and provide proof of continuing education in welding. This may include attending welding conferences, taking welding courses, or participating in welding workshops.

Types of AWS Welding Certifications

If you are looking to advance your welding career or improve your skills, obtaining an AWS welding certification can be a great way to achieve your goals. AWS offers several types of welding certifications that can help you demonstrate your welding skills and knowledge to potential employers.

Certified Welder (CW)

The Certified Welder (CW) certification is the most basic welding certification offered by AWS. This certification is designed for welders who have a basic understanding of welding processes and techniques. To become a Certified Welder, you must pass a hands-on welding test that evaluates your ability to perform basic welding techniques such as welding in the flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead positions.

Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)

The Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) certification is designed for welding professionals who want to inspect and evaluate welding work performed by others. This certification requires a combination of education, experience, and passing a written exam. The exam covers topics such as welding processes, welding symbols, welding codes, and inspection techniques.

Certified Welding Educator (CWE)

The Certified Welding Educator (CWE) certification is designed for welding instructors who want to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in teaching welding techniques and processes. This certification also requires a combination of education, experience, and passing a written exam. The exam covers topics such as welding processes, welding safety, and teaching techniques.

Preparation for Certification

To become an AWS certified welder, you need to prepare yourself by studying the required materials and completing the necessary training courses. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the certification exam.

Study Materials

The AWS website provides a list of recommended study materials for each type of certification. These materials include textbooks, study guides, and online courses. You can purchase these materials directly from the AWS website or from other online retailers.

It is important to review the study materials thoroughly and take notes on important concepts. You may also want to create flashcards to help you memorize key terms and definitions.

Training Courses

AWS offers a variety of training courses to help you prepare for the certification exam. These courses are available both online and in-person. The courses cover a range of topics, including welding safety, welding processes, and welding codes and standards.

Attending a training course can be helpful in reinforcing your understanding of the material and providing hands-on experience. Additionally, some courses offer practice exams to help you prepare for the certification exam.

Benefits of AWS Welding Certification

If you're considering a career in welding, obtaining an AWS welding certification can provide numerous benefits. Here are just a few:

Career Advancement

Having an AWS welding certification can help you stand out from other job candidates and increase your chances of getting hired. In addition, many employers offer higher pay and more opportunities for advancement to those who hold AWS certifications.

Industry Recognition

AWS welding certifications are widely recognized in the welding industry and can help you establish credibility with employers, customers, and colleagues. This recognition can lead to more job opportunities and better job security.

Professional Development

Obtaining an AWS welding certification requires you to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in welding. This process can help you identify areas where you need to improve and motivate you to continue learning and growing as a welder. In addition, maintaining your certification requires ongoing education and training, which can help you stay up-to-date with the latest welding techniques and technologies.


Attaining an AWS Welding Certification goes beyond the basics — it's a strategic career move that establishes you as a highly skilled and informed professional within the welding community. With the insights provided in this guide about the certification process, requirements, and associated benefits, you are well-prepared to pursue this distinguished credential confidently.

As you weigh the career progression and potential income enhancement associated with AWS Certification, you may also wonder about a welder's earning power. To further study the economics of a welding career, visit our detailed article, "How Much Does a Welder Make?", which offers a closer look at welder salaries and the various elements that impact them. Whether you're just embarking on your welding career or an experienced professional aiming to affirm your skills and boost your pay, the AWS Welding Certification is your gateway to new opportunities. Embrace the next phase of your professional journey today, and let your career prospects shine as bright as your welding arc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is AWS welding certification worth it?

Yes, AWS welding certification is worth it for welders who want to demonstrate their skills and knowledge to potential employers. AWS certification is recognized in the industry and can lead to higher pay, better job opportunities, and increased credibility.

How can I become an AWS Certified Welding Inspector?

To become an AWS Certified Welding Inspector, you must meet certain education and experience requirements and pass the AWS Certified Welding Inspector exam. The requirements vary depending on the level of certification you are seeking. You can find more information on the AWS website.

Is the AWS welding test hard?

The difficulty of the AWS welding test depends on your level of experience and knowledge. The test consists of both written and practical portions, and you must pass both to become certified. It is important to prepare thoroughly and practice your welding skills before taking the test.

Which welding certification pays the most?

The highest paying welding certification varies depending on the industry and location. However, AWS Certified Welding Inspectors generally earn higher salaries than other types of welders. Other factors that can affect your earning potential include your level of experience, education, and skills.

Does AWS certification increase your salary?

Yes, AWS certification can increase your salary as a welder. Employers often pay higher salaries to certified welders because they have demonstrated their skills and knowledge in the field. Additionally, AWS certification can lead to better job opportunities and career advancement.

What is the fastest way to get a welder's certificate?

To get a welder's certificate quickly, enroll in a welding certification program and finish the required coursework and training. Some programs can be completed in as little as six months, depending on your level of experience and the type of certification you are seeking. Make sure to choose a reputable program that meets industry standards.

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