How To Become a Certified Welding Inspector in 2024

August 18, 2020

Welding offers many career paths for individuals to pursue, from pipefitters, iron welders, sheet metal workers, robotic weld technicians to welding equipment salespeople and more.

Certified welding inspectors, however, remain among the highest-earning professionals in the field. These individuals must inspect each weld to ensure it was performed effectively, to quality standards, and to those of safety regulations.

They will also be expected to review documents, monitor the welding process, and examine the pre-welding environment. Check out the article below for more information on how to become a certified welding inspector, salary information, and tips for success.

heated welding

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Certifications, Exams, and Education Requirements to Become a Certified Welding Inspector

While there is no minimum educational requirement for a career as a certified welding inspector, a high school diploma, or a higher degree is encouraged. The less education an individual has under their belt, the more work experience they are expected to have attained.

Check out the table below from the American Welding Society  website for more information on qualifications and requirements:

You can find application forms for your Certified Welding Inspector certification online at the American Welding Society. Forms must be submitted at least 6 weeks prior to taking the exam.

The application fee is $1,070 for AWS members and $1,325 for AWS members. Applicants should also choose a code test subject, or the type of welding they plan to specialize in for inspections.

Applicants have the option to choose up to three choice exam locations. AWS has testing centers located throughout the country. After the exam location has been confirmed, applicants can make travel and hotel arrangements.

In preparation for the exam, applications are encouraged to participate in the certified welding inspector seminar, which involves an intensive review of welding inspection science, documentation, and techniques.

The six-day seminar will also introduce prospective welding inspectors to the Body of Knowledge that corresponds to the CWI Exam. Individuals who cannot attend the seminar should utilize the following resources:

The actual exam consists of three sections. Each student must receive a grade of 72 percent or better to pass. Individuals must also pass a vision test to receive their certification.

Recipients must renew their certification every three years and recertify every nine years.


Earn your degree in Welding Engineering Technology from NEIT and begin your new career path today!



Related Article – How long does it take to become a welder

Additional Endorsements for Certified Welding Inspectors

While not required, the American Welding Society offers certified welding inspectors the opportunity to attain additional endorsements. These supplemental inspection credentials will allow CWIs to conduct inspections in more areas and secure locations. Endorsements offered by the AWS are listed below:

  • D1.1 Structural Steel
  • D1.2 Structural Aluminum
  • D1.5 Bridge Welding
  • D15.1 Railroad
  • D17.1 Aerospace
  • API 1104 Pipeline
  • Welder Performance Qualification Endorsement
  • Magnetic Particle Testing (MT Dry Powder Yoke Method)
  • Penetrant Testing (PT Type II- Method C)
  • ASME Pressure Vessel Section IX, Pressure Piping B31.1 and B31.3
  • ASME Pressure Vessel Section VIII, Div. 1 and Section IX
  • Structural Bolting Inspection
  • Structural Drawing Reading

Duties and Responsibilities of a Welding Inspector

Certified welding inspectors are exposed to the same workplace environments as professional welders. They will spend time on job sites physically inspecting welds. Welders should remain physically fit, as aspects of the job may require them to lift heavy materials.

Other skills and responsibilities are listed below:

  • Familiarity with Welding Essentials and Vocabulary: Certified Welding Inspectors must maintain an understanding of AWS verbiage to avoid miscommunications.
  • Organization: Certified Welding Inspectors will be expected to produce paperwork for each project they work on. Keeping their documents organized and detailed-oriented is an essential part of the job. They should also be familiar with certain software including Microsoft Word and Excel.
  • Communication: Certified Welding Inspects must also maintain regular communication with their welders, supervisors, and clients to make sure everyone is up-to-date and informed on current projects
  • Ability to Travel: A welding inspector may be expected to travel for the job. New contracts mean visiting different locations across the country.

CWI Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

The American Welding Society holds that certified welding inspectors earn an average annual salary of $66,288 or $35 an hour when staffed at a single company in a single location. Freelance contractors have been known to make upwards of $75 an hour.

After a minimum of six out of the previous eight years as a certified welding inspector, individuals will have the opportunity to advance their careers.

According to the American Welding Society, ideal candidates for the position of senior certified welding inspector should have extensive problem-solving experience. This will arm them with a deeper and more specific understanding of advanced NDE topics, quality systems, and procedure qualifications.

To qualify for the Senior Certified Welding Inspector certification, candidates must have a minimum of 15 years’ work experience in at least three of the following areas:

  • Experience in the development of procedures, inspection requirements, acceptance criteria, and specifications for weldments.
  • Experience in planning, control, and application of base metals and filler metals in the preparation and completion of production weldments.
  • Experience as a welder, welding operator, or tack welder in fabrication, manufacturing, or construction.
  • Experience in the detection and measurement of weld discontinuities by application of visual or other nondestructive evaluation processes to a written procedure.
  • Experience in planning, control, and application of repair welding.
  • Experience in the preparation of written procedures for welding, nondestructive evaluation of weldments, or destructive tests of weldments.
  • Experience in the qualification of welders or welding procedures to various codes, standards, and specifications.
  • Experience applying welding-related codes, standards, or specifications.
  • Experience in operational techniques and activities used to fulfill quality control requirements for weldments.
  • Experience in teaching the occupational skill of welding or subjects related to welding; its application, control, materials, and processes.

As an AWS Senior Certified Welding Inspector, you must renew your certification every three years and recertify every nine.

guy welding joints together

Jump-Start Your Career as a Welding Inspector at the New England Institute of Technology

The New England Institute of Technology is one of the best welding schools in the USA and has amazing opportunities for individuals looking to get hands-on training and educational experience leading up to a career as a certified welding inspector.


Earn your degree in Welding Engineering Technology from NEIT and begin your new career path today!



Our Associate Degree in Welding Engineering Technology introduces welding and pipefitting skills as well as computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), building design, how to read blueprints, and other theories and best practices. The program will take place in both an academic and laboratory environment.

The program provides intensive training in oxy-acetylene, air carbon arc cutting, brazing, SMAW, GMAW, FCAW, and GTAW. Students will also take courses in industrial OSHA safety procedures and policy, metallurgy, structural design, non-destructive testing, and precision measurement.

Students also prepare for future certifications through simulated welder qualification tests.

Graduates of the Welding Engineering Technology program will be prepared for several types of industry positions, including welding engineering technician, production welder, industrial engineering technician, quality control engineering technician, CADD designer, CADD technician, welding industry salesperson, and materials testing technician.

For more information on the welding technology program at the New England Institute of Technology, fill out this form or call 866-783-7932.

Apply to our welding program and graduate in less than 2 years.