For welders looking to move forward in their careers, a specialized American Welding Society (AWS) certification can provide a number of exciting opportunities. With an AWS certification, previously-unavailable, better-paying jobs further up the career ladder become available to you. The range of nine types of AWS certification allows for specialization in a variety of areas, including supervision, inspection, fabrication, welding engineering, radiographic interpretation and education.
What is an AWS certification?
The American Welding Society is a nonprofit organization that offers a number of highly-regarded and industry-leading certifications in a number of welding disciplines, including:
- Certified Welder
- Certified Welding Supervisor
- Certified Welding Inspector
- Senior Certified Welding Inspector
- Certified Welding Educator
- Certificated Radiographic Interpreter
- Certified Welding Engineer
- Certified Robotic Arm Welding
- Certified Welding Sales Representative
What are the benefits of AWS certification?
The AWS certification program is the leading welding certification program worldwide. Because of this, an AWS certification can provide welders with a number of key benefits.
- Greater job opportunities: Companies are eager to hire certified welders due to the training and expertise required to become certified. Statistically, certified welders have fewer accidents and injuries on the job as compared to their non-certified counterparts; this record of job safety makes certified welders attractive candidates.
- Better job security: When faced with the need to downsize, companies are more likely to keep their certified welders on the payroll as their certification makes them more difficult to replace.
- Higher pay: in 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that certified welders have the potential to out-earn their uncertified counterparts by between 10 and 60 percent.
- Broader career path options: Certified welders are needed in a wide range of industries such as manufacturing, automotive services and construction. Certification also opens the door to freelancing or starting your own welding business.
How do I become AWS certified?
To become AWS certified in any of the certification areas, you need to register to take the certification test at one of over a 100 AWS-accredited testing centers in the United States. Note that many employers will cover the cost of AWS certification for already-employed welders. Although there are no specific education requirements, the AWS certification tests are comprehensive; even experience welders may benefit from taking a welding program at a technical school such as ETI School of Skilled Trades. After passing the certification test, you will be issued your AWS certification; this certification must be renewed every six months with confirmation from your employer that you are using the welding techniques for which you are certified.