A welding inspector is a highly skilled professional who has amassed several years of continuous occupational function and passed a series of qualifying examinations given by the American Society of Welders. He is responsible for assuring that the quality of workmanship performed by welders conforms to a set of industry and contract standards.
Here are the steps to follow to start a career as a welder and move up to being a welding inspector.
1. You need to be good in math and measurement and have good eyesight with or without corrective lenses. For entry-level qualification, you can be a high school graduate or undergraduate with some knowledge from your shop and welding classes. Apply as an apprentice in a welding shop and gain 4 years of experience if you are a high school graduate; 6 years of experience if you are an undergraduate or reached the 8th grade.
2. Enroll in a trade or vocational school for a welding curriculum. The American Society of Welders recommends that you take classes in welding code, visual inspection workshop and welding inspection technology. You should continue your work as a welder.
3. Prepare to take an Associate Welding Inspector (AWI) examination. The examination is broken into three parts. Part A is on fundamentals of welding, Part B is practical exam and Part C is for the welding codes. You need to have a minimum score of 72% in each of these examinations to qualify. Should you fail to pass the exam, you need to take 40 hours of professional training before you can retake the exam. You are allowed two tries a year for this.
For an AWI certification, you should be a high school graduate or equivalent with a minimum of 2 years work experience and earned credit hours in training. A high school undergraduate must have 4 years work experience; 6 years if you have not reached the 8th grade. One year of vocational training in a welding institute and 3 years minimum work experience is needed if you only reached 8th grade and 6 months work experience if you had 2 years of post- high school education in welding or engineering, engineering technology or physical services curriculum.
An Associate Welding Inspector can already perform inspection under the direct supervision (within visible and hearing distance) of the WI or the SWI.
4. As you continue your work and accumulate about 9 to 12 years of professional work experience, then you can aim to be a Welding Inspector (WI). As a Welding Inspector, you can train and supervise an AWI, do inspections on applicable processes and procedures, and do audits on suppliers, record keeping and oversee the application of standards and evaluate work performance based on contract requirements.
5. Eventually you can get certification as a Senior Welding Inspector (SWI) when you have gained some 15 years of professional experience. As a Senior Welding Inspector, you can supervise, train and evaluate the performance of the AWI and the WI and should be able to develop the requirements for inspection, draw quality assurance and safety procedure plans. You can also have the task of creating project plans and devise training programs for your staff.
As you earn years of experience and seniority in the job as a welding inspector in any level of qualification, you should not stop learning. Keep abreast of the latest trends in welding techniques and advanced developments in the welding technology and industry. This will be of great help when renewing your license.