Skilled Trades

Certified Welding Inspector: Career Overview

Skilled TradesJanuary 09, 2024

As of 2023, there are roughly 770,000 welders in the United States, according to the American Welding Society (AWS). However, more than 155,000 of them are approaching retirement. As a result, the AWS projects there will be 90,000 welding job openings annually from 2023 to 2027. 

If you’re interested in helping fill this gap, it’s important to understand the different roles welders play in industries like aerospace, automotive production, construction, and manufacturing. Welders operate a variety of equipment to join or cut metal parts and fill seams or holes in metal products. In addition, they may interpret blueprints, calculate measurements, and maintain equipment. 

A welding inspector, on the other hand, is a special type of welder. They bring several years of experience to their role and handle additional tasks such as conducting tests, maintaining records, and inspecting joints for compliance. 

To become a certified welding inspector, individuals must pass an exam and be knowledgeable in welding techniques, tools, codes, and standards. Foundational training can be gained through a welding technology program. These programs offer a combination of hands-on and classroom lessons to prepare graduates to enter the welding profession. 

Certified Welding Inspector Job Description 

Certified welding inspectors are skilled tradespersons who ensure welded components are structurally sound and of high quality. They are required to have strong knowledge of welding techniques, materials, and processes. Welding inspectors oversee welding projects to ensure they meet company standards and industry regulations.

Work Environments for Certified Welding Inspectors

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a majority (65%) of welders worked in manufacturing as of 2022. Other entities that employ welders include specialty trade contractors (7%) and repair and maintenance providers (4%). Another 4% of welders are self-employed. 

Welders and welding inspectors also work in varied climates (including cold and hot environments) and in small spaces. To protect themselves from work-related injuries, these professionals wear protective equipment, such as helmets or hoods, eyewear, safety shoes, heat-resistant gloves, and hearing protection devices. 

<h3>Certified Welding Inspector Job Responsibilities</h3>

Certified welding inspectors monitor whether a welding project meets certain codes or standards (including safety protocols), and keep detailed records of a project’s progress. Their primary responsibility is to prevent errors and accidents from occurring during the welding process.

Individuals in the profession will typically oversee the testing of materials and finished products. They will also monitor welder qualifications and welding equipment quality standards. In addition to recordkeeping, inspectors may need to assess projects and prepare and present reports to company leadership.

How to Become a Certified Welding Inspector 

Those interested in becoming a certified welding inspector must first earn a high school diploma. The next step is completing a welding training program through a technical or vocational school or a community college. For entry-level welding roles, many employers look for candidates who have technical training, but some offer on-the-job training for high school graduates. 

Welders will need to meet licensing and certification requirements and gain several years of experience to become certified welding inspectors.

Licensure and Certification

Some states require welders to be licensed. As for certification, employers may seek credentialed candidates for certain positions. In some instances, employers may cover an employee’s cost of obtaining certification. 

There are several welding certification options. To gain the certified welding inspector (CWI) certificate through the AWS, individuals must meet certain education and experience requirements. The minimum work experience requirements increase for candidates who have fewer years of formal education.

An example of a path to CWI certification includes the following:

  • Passing a vision test
  • Completing approximately one year’s worth of welding courses through a technical or vocational school program and possessing at least four years of welding work experience
  • Passing all three parts of the CWI exam (with at least a 72% score), consisting of welding fundamentals, a practical test, and a code book test

Job Outlook for Certified Welding Inspector

The BLS projects 42,600 job openings for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers each year between 2022 and 2032. One of the main reasons for this job growth is the need to replace retirees and career changers. In addition, due to the country’s aging infrastructure, the expertise of skilled tradespersons like welders and welding inspectors is needed to repair highways, bridges, and buildings. Manufacturing plants that produce machinery and metal products will also need welders and inspectors.

Begin Your Welding Career With a Diploma at Fortis 

The path to becoming a certified welding inspector begins with formal training. In as little as 48 weeks, individuals can earn a vocational diploma through the Fortis welding technology training program. Welding programs are offered in various locations such as Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; Cincinnati and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; and Houston, Texas.

In the program, you will gain fundamental knowledge of welding safety practices and different welding processes and their applications. You will also learn welding techniques, along with basic knowledge of welding mathematics and welding blueprints. 

Along with welding, Fortis offers skilled trade programs in electrical trades; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); and electrical systems technology. 

Explore how Fortis programs can help you launch your career today. 

Recommended Readings
Benefits of Trade School: Why a Hands-on Skilled Trades Career Might be a Good Fit
The Four Primary Arc Welding Processes You’ll Learn About in Our Welding Program
5 Industries That Need Welders

American Welding Society, Certified Welder Inspector Certification
American Welding Society, Welding Workforce Data
Indeed, How To Become a Certified Welding Inspector in 2023 
Indeed, How To Become a Welder in 6 Steps
Indeed, Learn About Being a Welder
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers
Tags: welding