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Qualification and Certification of Welders


The following information is an effort to help eliminate some of the confusion regarding the “certification” and “qualification” of welders. Due to the complexity of the subject matter, this information is intended to be an overview of this subject. Various codes are used to effectively control the quality of welding in industry, and may vary from state to state, province to province, and country to country.

Welding is an extremely complex mix of varied processes, and there are several different welding processes in use today. Some of the popular welding processes used in industry today are: SMAW (stick), GMAW (mig, FCAW, flux core mig), and GTAW (tig). Manufacturers are able to choose from hundreds of metals, dozens of welding processes, and an ever increasing number of filler metals and shielding gases. All of these variables will require different tests for the welders.

Welders may be found applying their trade in factories, foundries, at construction sites, under water, and even in outer space. Some are highly skilled, and experts at their trade, while others are just beginning this interesting career. Statistics confirm that with the shortage of skilled blue collar workers, those getting into a skilled trade now will have the opportunity of steady employment for as long as they want to work in their chosen trade.

Qualification versus Certification

Terminology and slang terms vary from area to area and country to country, and these two words are probably the two most misunderstood words in the welding trade, and are often used incorrectly and interchangeably. The use and understanding of these two words often varies from company to company, province to province, etc. An often heard statement is, “I want to get my ticket”, a polite response to this may be, “which one”, as there are literally dozens of various tickets available. Or someone will make the statement, “I’m a certified Pipe welder”, this is great but in which welding process are you certified, which type of filler metal, carbon steel or stainless steel, what position are you tested to? I am not intending to embarrass or ridicule anyone by making these statements; I am merely attempting to eliminate some of the confusion regarding this aspect of the welding trade.

We can assume that not all welders need to be certified, but in the interest of safety and quality we would assume though that welders working on pressure vessels, boilers, pressure pipe in refineries, structural steel for bridges, etc., would have to be highly skilled and capable of regularly passing any required qualification tests.

There are several governing bodies that look after the quality of welds, such as the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB), American Welding Society (AWS),Technical Safety Standards Authority (TSSA), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and American Petroleum Institute (API). These agencies oversee structural applications, and some may be involved in pressure vessels and pipe, while others look after nuclear facilities, and so on.

Why So Many Tickets?

Several factors control the quality of a weld. The parent metal that was used, the type of welding process, the filler metals, essential variables such as amperage, voltage, shielding gases (if used), even the speed at which a joint was welded may affect the quality of the weld deposited. Any time that a change is made affecting the metallurgical soundness of the weld, a different “welding procedure” is implemented, thus requiring that the welder(s) must be retested.

So Now What?

To sum things up, not all welders need to be tested and certified. Those who are may not have been tested in all positions, possibly flat only on structural steel joints as an example, using the SMAW process. Therefore the welder would not be permitted to weld with GMAW unless further tests were done. Welder’s tickets are usually only valid at their current place of employment. Welding is a challenging and rewarding career choice, and those who undergo training at a welder training facility have the option of being tested and issued various tickets. It is normally the responsibility of the employer to ensure that welders are following the correct welding procedures, and that testing was carried out to confirm that the welder has the skills to perform the job.

Industry needs welders who can do the job, employers may be looking for various forms of “proof of competence”, whether it be previous experience, trades training, previous tickets, etc. As an entry level welder leaving a training facility, you probably do not have previous experience in the trade. Prove to your current or prospective employer(s) that you can do the job by showing him/her your enthusiasm, determination, and desire to meet the challenge head on, and to continue with you’re learning process. Remember, learning is a lifelong task, and I can assure that you will be challenged, and rewarded, by your career choice as a welder.

Written by Brian Chalmers


Ed C.


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