Welding Inspector – Job Overview

You may have heard of a welding inspector during conversations with tradesmen and welders. What does a welding inspector do? How did they get their training? This article will cover the key facts of welding inspectors.

Welding Inspectors

From a welders perspective, an inspector position is highly respected. Inspectors are usually paid a higher rate than welders. Also, they have more authority in fabrication shops, as well as on job sites. Most welding inspectors have been welding for quite some time; and it tends to be a pretty cushy job for folks nearing retirement age.

Becoming an inspector requires extensive training through a reputable program. Some schools offer the course to prep for the test through the american welding society. You can also take an online course through the AWS to prepare for the final exam.

Welding Inspector Pipeline
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Welding Inspector Requirements

There are strict education and work experience requirements to qualify for a certified welding inspector position. So, the less education you have, the more work experience you need. The more education you have, the less work experience is needed.

  • High School diploma = 5 years of additional welding experience
  • Vocational/Tech School = 3 to 4 years of additional welding experience
  • Associate Degree = 2 years of additional welding experience
  • Bachelor Degree = 1 year of additional welding experience

Keep in mind that your higher level schooling must be related to welding, engineering, or physical sciences.

What Will You Study?

There are multiple courses that prepare students to take the final CWI (Certified Welding Inspector) test.

Metallurgy

This involves understanding the science and makeup of metallic elements. This is crucial to understanding how welding works. Students will study multiple metal compounds as well as mixtures of different metals. They will gain vast knowledge of how different metals react with one another.

Welding Symbols

There is a specific set of symbols in the welding world that help welders carry out projects efficiently. The AWS developed and holds these symbols. As you may have guessed, certified welding inspectors must have great fluency with these symbols. We have a special guide on the symbols you can check out here.

Destructive Testing

Most commonly a bend test – these procedures dictate if a welder can lay down a sufficient bead that will never break under stress. Destructive tests prove if a candidate will be able to join a companies roster of welders . Safety is a huge concern in the world of welding. A broken weld can lead to injury or death. Just think about if a railing or staircase failed!

Welding Safety

Welding inspectors must be well versed in standard safety precautions. Proper PPE and guidelines ensure a safe and precise workplace. Besides inspecting welds, CWI’s must monitor the site for hazardous conditions and careless employees.

Fabrication Mathematics

Welders must be proficient in calculating precise measurements and angles. All projects must have perfect measurements when completed. Welding inspectors must know these tricks of the trade; and will check the employees layout during the fabrication process.

Nondestructive Testing

Some welds must be tested in the field without harming the weld itself. This is a large part of a welding inspectors daily routine. These involve visual tests, x rays and particle tests. This is common in the pipeline industry – Welders are tested via x ray, because a failed weld can lead to an oil spill.

Welding Procedure Specifications (WPS)

Think of the WPS as a welders bible. These documents give welders info on weld size, placement, preheat temperatures and so on. Welding inspectors have to compare final welds with the WPS standards. Reading these specifications can be tricky, and CWI’s must be well versed with this knowledge.

Welding Fundamentals

This is pretty self explanatory. Candidates taking these courses will study welding terminology, safety and quality control. There are often multiple courses related to welding fundamentals.

Welding Inspector Salary

Welding inspectors in the United States take home an average of $59,000 a year. Welders take home $44,000 on average. Certain industries such as the oil field will generally pay CWI’s more than usual. Interested welders may study for their inspector test while working full time as a welder. This is in hopes of a higher wage as well as job security. There are way less qualified welding inspectors than welders.