The 5 W’s of a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) : Part 2

By Joel Armstrong


The first thing a potential CWI will need to do is to apply with AWS to sit and take the test.  You need to collect and submit certain education and experience documents with your application. You can find more details on the education and experience requirements in Part 1 of this post.   You will also need to schedule a vision test.  There is a specific near vision exam, the Jaeger, and color blind test that can be administered by most opticians and ophthalmologists.   Do not worry if you’re color blind, you can still be a CWI.  Trust me, I’m color blind and have been a CWI since 1997.  Finally, you will have to pay a fee.  There a several options for endorsements and packages. For just the initial exam AWS Members pay $1070.  If you want to incorporate the CWI Seminar (which I strongly recommend), the package rate for AWS Members is $2585.  Non-AWS Members pay a $255 premium.  The package includes your study guides, code book and exam.


The next thing to do is study.  Even if you signed up for the week long prep course, you will benefit a lot from some pre-course studying.  AWS offers an online prep course to help you focus on the areas you need help in.  They also provide a list of recommended study materials.  If you’re looking for that one book, I highly recommend the Welding Inspection Handbook.  It’s a good all-around book that covers all three portions of the exam.  

There are several CWI Seminars offered by third-party providers like Hobart School of Welding, Lincoln Electric and WTTI. Before signing up for any course, check and see what is included, how long it lasts, how soon is it prior to the test, and if there is any “warranty” or discount for not passing the first time.

There are three parts to the CWI exam.  Each one has a two hour time limit and cover different areas of welding. The body of knowledge or what does this test cover, can be found here.

Fundamentals (Part A) has 150 questions and cover general terms and definitions, welding symbols, processes, testing, NDE test methods, heat transfer, metallurgy, reporting and recording.

Practical (Part B) consists of 46 questions and covers use of inspection tools, procedure and welder qualifications, flaws, mechanical testing and properties, utilization of specifications and drawings.  This part is typically considered the most challenging part for beginners. You may have to use a sample welding code, interpret it and determine if a weld is acceptable or not.

The code portion of the test is an open book exam with 46 to 60 questions.  It covers all parts of the code book, design, fabrication, inspection, qualification, and materials.  You can bring your own book with notes, tabs, and highlights already in them.  Be sure to check that your code book is the same edition of the one you will be tested on.  The codes can change significantly from one edition to the next.

Receiving and Maintaining Certification

A passing grade of 72% is necessary for each part.  Once you pass, your CWI accreditation lasts for 3 years.  After 9 years, you need to recertify by taking the Practical portion only, attend a 9 Year Seminar or have 80 hours of professional development hours.

Obtaining your CWI accreditation is challenging yet rewarding.  If you prepare and apply yourself, you’ll do great.  Let me know your experience and how you do!

Posted on 07-30-2019

Joel Armstrong

Sales Engineer at Red Ball Oxygen Co. Inc.

Joel Armstrong is a Senior Certified Welding Inspector and has been in the welding industry since 1998. He can be contacted on LinkedIn.