It would be hard to understate the importance of a welding certification to anyone interested in working as a professional welder. With job sites placing more and more requirements on contractors, and a greater number of applicants competing for each job opening, holding an AWS, ASME, API or other major certification has become an absolute must in the eyes of many employers.
In this guide, we’ll cover each of the three most-common types of welding certifications mentioned above, and provide an overview of the steps required to earn each one.
Note: Some of the certification mentioned below require the candidate to first complete an accredited welding school. This is noted where required.
Type of Welding Certifications
Depending on the industry you’re working in, there will be different types of welding certificates sought by employers. Holding one of these industry-specific credentials indicates that the welder is qualified under all applicable current codes to work on most job sites.
This section takes a look at three of the most-commonly required, industry-specific welding certificates.
American Petroleum Institute (API) Certification
The API 577 certification is generally required for those interested in working as pipeline welders in the gas and oil industries. The certification process involves the following steps:
- Show proof of qualification to sit for the certification exam (see below)
- Pass the API 577 certification examination
- Renew the certification every 3 years
The following is a closer look at each step.
Qualification for Certification Exam
The table below reflects the minimum requirements to be certified to take the API 577. Candidates must submit an application providing proof of their eligibility.
|Level of Education
|12 months in
in Welding Technology
|24 months in
|High school diploma||36 months in
|None||48 months in
Passing the API 577
The API 577 welding certification exam is a timed, multiple-choice exam that is administered at a Prometric testing center. The four-hour test consists of 70 questions – 49 of which must be answered correctly in order to register a passing score – all related to petrochemical industry standards and procedures for welders.
Candidates who do not pass the exam on their first attempt may retake it as many times as necessary within 12 months of their first exam date. Should they still not be able to pass the exam within this time period, they will have to repeat the application process from the start.
API 577 certification must be renewed every 36 months. The process for renewing your certificate involves simply logging into the api.org recertification portal and following the instructions provided.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Certification
For welders who wish to work with boiler and pressure vessels, the ASME provides the BPVC standard and its accompanying Section IX welding certification. The BPVC-IX certification deals with basic metallurgical principles and how they are specifically applied when dealing with pressurized containers.
Earning a BPVC-IX certification requires completing an ASME-approved course. This courses can usually be completed in just a few days, and reward all graduates with an ASME Gold Seal certification in BPVC-IX that is good as long as the current industry codes remain unchanged.
American Welding Society (AWS) Certification
The most common certification required for professional welders is the CW (Certified Welder) certificate awarded by the American Welding Society. This certificate can be used to secure employment in any number of industries, as it covers standards for structural steel, sheet metal, pipelines and other basic types of welding.
Becoming certified is a process which requires the welder to complete the following steps:
- Study and become familiar with QC7-93 Standard materials
- Schedule an exam with the nearest AWS-accredited test center
- Pass the CW exam
- Maintain certification by completing the renewal process outlined by AWS
Study the QC7-93 Standard
The QC7-93 Standard is a set of requirements and codes that all certified welders are expected to meet and comply with. The standard is available in written form and may be studied independently, or through the AWS-sponsored CW program.
Schedule an Exam
Once a candidate has either completed the CW program, or feels that he or she is familiar enough with the QC7-93 exam to challenge for certification, the next step is to schedule an exam. Examinations are administered by AWS-accredited test facilities only. Click here to review the current list of approved test centers.
Pass the CW Exam
The AWS welding certification exam itself is performance-based and will require the candidate to demonstrate several different welding procedures in front of an evaluator. The exam is simply pass-fail, and the specific tasks required may be different at each facility.
Maintaining your AWS certification is an ongoing process that involves applying for recertification every six months. This process is automated and recertification is generally automatic provided that the welder is still performing the same type of job in the same industry.
A Final Word on Welding Certification
While holding a welding certification may not always be required in order to work for every employer, it should be considered mandatory for anyone who is considering a career as a professional welder. Taking the time and effort to become, and remain, certified shows that you are a serious professional who is in the business for the long run. Combined with your talent and skill on the job, this will help you build a reputation that will stand the test of time and reward your efforts many times over.Welding Schools Staff