Welding Certifications: What they mean & How to get one

Do you need a certification to weld?

While certification may be necessary for certain welding jobs, it’s not always required. Knowing whether or not you need a welding certificate will depend on the type of welding job and its requirements.

Welding certificates are typically issued by accredited organizations (e.g., American Welding Society) following the successful completion of a practical exam.

This test assesses your welding skills in the required welding process for which certification is sought. Depending on the organization or employer, certifications can vary from basic qualifications to highly specialized ones (such as Combo welder) that involve years of experience to gain those skills.

For welding fabrications, jobs that are constructed according to the ASME or AWS Codes require mandatory welder certifications.

Although, if you are welding non-critical parts where a welding construction code is not applicable, certification is not required to do the welding. For example: welding a household gate, fence, or any other structural support.

Having a valid certification is usually important for those looking to enter into higher-paying positions or apply for government contracts with stricter regulations. Certification also gives employers assurance that you have had adequate training and are qualified for the job.

Having certifications proves that you are skilled in all aspects of welding safety and techniques; it also shows that you are reliable and knowledgeable about the trade.

how many welding certifications are there?

Welding is a complex trade that requires advanced skills, knowledge and experience.

Depending on the industry or specific welding job, welders may need to obtain certain certifications in order to show they have attained a basic level of competency.

But with so many different types of welding, it can be difficult for welders to figure out which certifications are relevant to their work and how many certifications they need altogether.

Note: This article is dedicated to Welder Certification. If you are looking for Welding Inspector Certification, Click here.

American Welding Society (AWS) lists the following welding certifications applicable for different welding skills & trades under Certified Welder Program:

How long does it take to get a welding Certificate?

The answer depends on several factors, including the type of welding you’ll be doing, the level of certification you want to attain, and your own educational background.

Generally speaking, most people who are new to welding will need at least six months- 2 years of study before they are ready for certification exams.

The process begins by completing a welding apprenticeship program or taking classes at a technical school. Many apprenticeships last around two years, with students learning through both classroom instruction and hands-on experience in the field.

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During this time, welders learn about various types of materials used in welding and gain proficiency in their chosen processes. Upon successful completion of an apprenticeship or technical school program, welders must pass an accredited certification test before they receive their official welding certificate.

For those already familiar with metalworking or engineering concepts, the process may only take three months or so.

With classroom or online instruction as well as hands-on training in a professional setting, welders typically receive their certificates after successfully completing written and practical exams administered by an accredited testing facility such as the American Welding Society (AWS).

how long does a welder certification last?

In general, most welding certifications are valid for two years before they need to be renewed.

During this time period, it’s important that certified welders keep a record of their continuity to prove that they are engaged in welding activities.

As per AWS D1.1, a welder certificates expires: If a welder, welding operator or a tack welder has not used the welding process (in which they are certified) for a period of more than six months.
As per ASME Section IX, a welder certificates expires: 
- As per QW 322.1, a welder who has not welded for more than six months shall have their qualification expired. Or,
- There are concerns about his/ her welding quality, a qualification can be revoked.

To renew their certifications, welders must obtain updated training from approved organizations or pass recertification tests administered by state boards or national associations.

can you weld without a certificate?

First of all, remember that Uncertified welders do not have access to jobs in certain industries and may not get the same pay rate as those who are certified.

For most jobs requiring welding, it is necessary to have certification as proof that you know how to make a sound weld.

This may include knowledge about different materials and techniques for joining them together. However, there are certain situations where it may not be required or feasible to get certified before starting the job.

For example, if the job involves minor repairs on existing structures or equipment for non-coded construction such as welding a household fence or doing car welding repair in a garage.

Although, most manufacturing companies, that follows ISO 9001 and carry out welding as per welding codes, require the welder to be certified.

how much does it cost to get a welding certificate?

The cost of a welding certificate varies widely depending on the institution where you choose to pursue your studies. Generally, students can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 – $5,000 for the materials they need, and course fees associated with the certification.

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For instance, basic entry-level courses may only be several hundred dollars while more specialized or advanced programs could cost thousands of dollars.

If you are an experienced welder who is looking for welding certification from AWS, the following are the charges:

  • Certified Welder Application $60,
  • Maintenance of Welder Certification $35,
  • Maintenance of Welder Certification – ITI $35

Reference: AWS Price List 2023.

 National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Certified Welder program’s latest cost can be found on their website.

which welding certification is best?

Choosing the right welding certification can be a daunting task. With so many different welding certifications available, it can be difficult to determine which one is best for you.

In order to choose the best welding certification for your needs, it is important to consider all of your options and research each one thoroughly.

Welding certifications provide individuals with a wide range of technical skills and knowledge in various types of welding processes.

The most common certifications offered are American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welder, American Petroleum Institute (API) Certified Welder, Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) Certified Welder, and National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Certified Welder.

How can I get a welding certificate?

First of all, start by researching what type of welding certificate you want. Do you want a standard American Welding Society (AWS) certificate?

Or do you want one from another professional organization like the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)?

Knowing what type of welding certification will best suit your needs is key.

The next step is to decide which type of welding certification you want; the most common types are shielded metal arc (SMAW), gas tungsten arc (GTAW), flux-cored arc (FCAW) and gas metal arc (GMAW).

Once you have chosen the right certification program for yourself, find an accredited school or training center that offers it.

Can I get my welding certification online?

 For welding certifications, you can attend theoretical exams online but for practical you must take the exam at the accredited exam center only.

Welding is a manual skill, and it’s not possible to learn online. So, you must attend training school to learn these manual skills.

Is a welding certificate worth it?

A welding certificate is a valuable asset in the job market and can open up many doors of opportunity. It is also a great way to get a foot in the door when it comes to higher-paying positions.

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Check out these top 10 best-paying welding jobs.

Depending on your current experience level, acquiring a welding certification can be beneficial in two ways.

First of all, if you are new to welding or have little experience, obtaining certification shows employers that you have foundational knowledge in the profession.

Secondly, if you already have some experience with welding but lack professional certifications or credentials, getting certified will increase your value as an employee by showcasing your qualifications for advanced positions.

Certification programs vary depending on what type of welding work you wish to pursue; however, most courses cover safety protocols and common industry standards.

What does a welding certificate look like?

A welding certificate includes the information about the:

  1. Certifying authority,
  2. Name of the person,
  3. Certificate number,
  4. Date of issue/ effective date,
  5. Date of expiry,
  6. Welding process qualified and ranges of qualification, etc.

When do welding certifications expire?

Without proper continuity & maintenance, welding certifications can expire or become invalid after a few years.

Knowing when your welding certifications expire is essential to maintaining your repertoire of skills and ensuring that you remain eligible for the best available opportunities in welding.

As per AWS D1.1, a welder certificate expires:

If a welder, welding operator or a tack welder has not used the welding process (in which they are certified) for a period of more than six months.

According to the ASME Section IX, a welding certificate expires.

- As per QW 322.1, a welder who has not welded for more than six months shall have their qualification expired. Or,
- There are concerns about his/ her welding quality, a qualification can be revoked.

Welding certification for structural steel?

Welding certification for structural steel is according to the AWS D1.1 Code. AWS D1.1 is code for structural steel welding.

Welding certification for aluminum?

Welding certification for aluminum is as per AWS D1.2 Code. AWS D1.1 is the code for aluminum structural welding.

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