Howdy! I am a VT Inspection qualified weldor (NDTP-271-VT) and the
inspection attributes and acceptance standards we use are NSTP 278, MIL-
STD-2035A, NSTP 1688, MIL-STD-1689A, and MIL-STD-2191 at Puget Sound
Naval Shipyard (a DOD Civilian, not a contractor), and I'm wondering if
any of that training would qualify me for the AWS's CWI certification.
What hoops would I have to jump through? Anyone here work for the
government and carry that cert?
The CWI doesn't require any of that stuff.
I got mine 2-1/2 years ago.
To become an AWS CWI you need to pass an eye exam, and then 6 hours of
Specifically three 2 hour tests.
General Welding Knowledge - 150 questions
Questions about all fields of general fabrication and construction
Code - 45 questions
This is an open book exam on the contents of a code book.
Your options are the D1.1 Structural Steel Code, the API-1104 Pipeline
Code, D1.5 Bridge Code, or the D15.1 Railroad Code.
The most common are the D1.1 and the API-1104.
If given the option go for the API-1104 test.
It means the difference between having 2 hours to answer 45 questions
from a book that has over 600 pages (D1.1) or a book with 75 pages
I took the API-1104 test and did very well, and it says nothing on my
CWI card as to what code I tested to.
Practical - 45 questions
You are given code sections and then weld samples cast in resin to
analyze according to the given code.
You are also tested on general knowledge of non-destructive testing.
I was surprised by how many questions were about Radiography.
You can be given the 3 sections in any order and the tests are computer
generated and unique to each victim (testee), so you can't cheat off
I spent the week before the test in an AWS test prep seminar that
crammed the info into my head at breakneck speed.
Luckily I can memorize technical data and recall it very clearly.
It was an exhausting process.
For an extra $75 they can add Certified Weld Educator (CWE), if you want
All you need to do to add it is hold a welding certification card of
The CWI is good for 9 years.
Every 3 years you pay a fee for a new card.
After 9 years you have to retest, or if you go to enough trade seminars
you don't have to retest.
Thank you, Mr. Leimkuhler. I guess I'm not sure if it would be worth my
time, money, and effort, since PSNS Shop 26 has to follow NAVSEA rules.
As a weldor, I pour my rod can or spool into the joint, if it looks
pretty I leave it, if not I grind it till it passes VT, then I sign off
on our QA paperwork. Then Code 135 comes in for any other NDT needed.
I've not had a joint fail on VT, MT, UT, or RT yet, and due to my size I
get stuck in a lot of crappy little holes on patches and joints that get
"elevated" NDTs. I typically weld on submarine hull patches, torpedo
racks, missile tubes, clad the occasional tank,....
I know a lot of what the AWS requires of their card-carrying weldors is
either learned from the Navy, or borrowed by the Navy. I'm not sure
that having the AWS say I can do something that NAVSEA trained, tested,
and works me out on a daily basis would be of much benefit unless I left
For our VT qualification, we have to pass a J-1 Jaeger vision test, a
written test on terminology, and a practical test that has six welds on
one plate (all have multiple problems). I have no knowledge of any of
the codes and regulations that real-world weldors need to have, all my
knowledge, skills and abilities come from training in the Apprentice
program in Shop 26, the Weld School at PSNS and from OJT on the
I have also discovered that I know nothing about hobby welding. I have
no clue what kind of power to run in my new playroom (garage) for
welding - everything I use at work is big, and sucks more juice than the
main breaker on my house could supply!
Thanks again for your reply- I've saved it for future reference....
Being a CWI has almost nothing to do with being a welder.
The 2 are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but most CWI's are not
They are inspectors.
Their job is to verify that a weld, or welder, passes a specific code
section or Weld Procedure Specification (WPS).
They also write WPS's for companies who need a specified weld process.
And they go into companies to audit their WPS's and that all welders on
staff have been tested to the appropriate codes.
I got mine so I could qualify welders at the schools I teach at.
To qualify welders in Washington State to the WABO code, you have to
have a CWI first.
Shortly after I got my CWI I applied and got my WABO Examiners card.
Most of a CWI's job is paperwork.
Next month I will be spending 3 weeks at Hellier in Anaheim to learn UT,
MT, and PT.
Then I will become one of the NDT instructors at my school.
All in all the CWI has been good for me and a worthwhile investment.
I am not sure if it would be worth it for you if you plan on remaining a
If you want to move up the food chain from welding to management then it
can be very worthwhile.
I hear that! I keep thinking I need to move up the food chain in my
shop or bail, and take a position in one of the codes. With the way I
get stuffed into every tight spot, stuck hanging from a rope by my
ankles (this happened on a "critical" weld in the sail of an SSGN sub),
and then crammed into a tank with humongous areas needing cladding, I'm
actually thinking of getting out of the production side of the house.
I'm also tired of witnessing the truism, "There's never enough time to
do it right, but there's always time to do it twice." I have had the
misfortune to have welded on several projects, then had to arc it out
and remove the piece getting installed because someone else decided to
replace the piece after the fact.
Maybe if I had a stripe (front line foreman) or a white hat (the boss's
boss) some of the aches and pains would go away. Maybe I'll get to be
the a-hole who tells the greenhorn to "just get in there and weld it,
Having spent some time on a submarine, your comment above scares the hell
out of me. I was qualified nuclear emergency repair welder and even at that
level (emergency repairs), I would never grind it until it passed VT. Keep
in mind that I never had to actually DO an emergency repair but that I had
to re-qualify every six months. Thankfully I was on the East Coast in CT
and never encountered a welder at the shipyard or FMA with an attitude like
yours. It is also good to know that anything that you may have welded
within the SubSafe boundaries was RT tested.
I'm sorry if my comments bothered you- I'm a little jaded now on how
some people can walk away from a weld that looks like smeared crap in
When I weld (usually stick welding) I work on filling up the joint. I
follow our workmanship standards. When the joint is beyond size (if
half inch fillet, I stop at 9/16") I clean it up if it needs it. Most
of my welds don't need to be ground on to pass NDT, but with some of the
out of position work I get stuck with, occasionally I do have to clean
Again, I have __never__ had a joint fail any form of NDT after I walk
away from it.
I am also SubSafe qualified, and virtually all of the work I do is
either in a RC or on Pressure Hull. I take great pride in the fact that
the SSN-711 came back up and made it to Guam after hitting an undersea
mountain. Belive me, I'm not going to smear crap in any joint and walk
Rest easy on my account.