Information from the “Source”!
Before I go into my opinions and observations about the differences, I strongly suggest you take a look at some of the information from the organization that writes the “standard” for the programs. It is not my intent to suggest that one is “better” than the other.
AWS SENSE information.
The primary document that addresses the SENSE program for “Entry Level” welders is AWS QC10. The current version of AWS QC10 can be obtained from https://pubs.aws.org/p/1843/qc102017-specification-for-qualification-and-certification-of-level-ientry-welders.
Below is some text from the “SCOPE” section of QC10 but understand that the standard itself is longer and refers to other standards with much more content.
1.1 This specification establishes the minimum requirements for trainees to receive AWS SENSE training certificate for full or partial completion of the Level I—Entry Welder program. SENSE training organizations are free to exceed these minimum requirements.
1.2 This specification defines practical knowledge examinations, as well as the workmanship and performance qualification tests that require a minimum level of reading, computational and manipulative skills to successfully complete.
1.3 All individuals that meet the specified training certificate criteria will be listed in the AWS SENSE Certificate Database provided that:
(1) the training facility is a SENSE Accredited Training Program (ATP) per the requirements of AWS QC21, Specification for AWS Accreditation of SENSE Welder Training Programs
(2) the required proof(s) of completion are submitted to AWS along with applicable fees.
1.4 Organizations that are not a SENSE Accredited Training Program may use this specification, but individuals they instruct will not be eligible for SENSE training certificates, nor will they be listed in the AWS SENSE Certificate Database.
For a “summary” of the program, you can see the information at this link
One of the biggest changes that caught my eye is the reference to the facility being accredited. The reference is made within the new standard to
AWS QC21, Specification for AWS Accreditation of SENSE Welder Training Programs.
If the link no longer works a search at AWS will help or contacting them. They sometimes change things and have old documents linked and some pages such as the main SENSE page at https://www.aws.org/education/sense have little info.
AWS “CERTIFIED WELDER” Information.
The primary document that governs the
The Scope Section of the 25+ year old document for Certified Welders says this.
1.1 Program. The rules for the American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welder Program and the requirements for maintenance of certification are provided in this standard. This standard requires the use of accredited test facilities for qualification testing.
1.2 Exclusion. This standard does not prevent a manufacturer, fabricator, or contractor from continuing to qualify welders according to other standards. Employers may impose requirements in addition to this standard, as deemed necessary.
1.3 Limitation. Certification under the American Welding Society Certified Welder Program shall be limited to those welding performance variables provided in the applicable supplements to this standard.
To read more about the program, see the AWS page at https://www.aws.org/certification/page/certified-welder-program
My opinion and observations
I have been involved as a consultant or employee with the setup, demonstration, and accreditation of four AWS ATF’s. I have served as test supervisor for three of those and am currently the Technical Manager at one. This doesn’t elevate me to expert status, only somewhat experienced.
I am also an AWS Certified Welder #1805901W and have a few basic tests because of a teaching position requirement. That does not mean I am a good welder, I am just “Certified
Three of the facilities above were also SENSE facilities. I am also an AWS SENSE “ENTRY LEVEL” welder for SMAW #17021105661.
Below is a table with some general observations about the program differences. This is by no means everything and I strongly suggest you read the standards. Again, this does not mean one is “better” than the other. As with many “
|Training Quality |
|Weld Quality |
|Welding Symbol |
|Welding skills |
|Performed by |
|Administering Facilty |
Required to be audited
|No (at this time)||Yes|
|Recognized by |
|Fee Paid to AWS|
|Fee Paid to AWS for|
I could go on and on but suggest you take a look at the applicable standards, talk to industry around you, and maybe give AWS a call and try to communicate with them about the two programs.
My general opinion is this.
An organization can become a SENSE by paying money to AWS and agreeing to do what they say. There is now an “
I have gone to SENSE High Schools and verified by observation and questioning that the supervision of the computer-based testing is supervised at various levels and that students are sometimes trained for the test. But they have at least been exposed to some knowledge about welding!
An organization can become an ATF by paying money to AWS but also going through an audit by AWS before actual testing can begin. Additionally, there are requirements for the test supervisors that do not exist for SENSE facilities at this writing. A person can
Another variable that has a very wide range is the actual welder qualification test. For SMAW as an example, the SENSE program requires a typical groove weld test with requirements essentially identical to AWS D1.1 However, for an “AWS Certified Welder” title, the test could range from a very basic flat sheet metal test Per D1.3 or a very much more difficult test in accordance with QC7-93 Supplement F that actually exceeds the requirements of codes such as ASME Sec. IX. The Supplement F has tests with space restrictions around the coupon and the need for the welder to prepare the coupons. by torch cutting IN POSITION! (See the document at https://pubs.aws.org/content/free_downloads/AWS_QC7-93_-_Supplement_F,_Chemical_Plant_and_Petroleum_Refinery_Piping.pdf)
As a test supervisor at various ATF’s, I have tested welders that met the requirements for AWS Certified Welder that I would NOT let loose on the job without close scrutiny. I have also met students who have completed the SENSE requirements that have no understanding of current, polarity, CTWD etc…
The bad part about both programs
As far as being a welder goes in my world/opinion, showing up with a hood and gloves ready to weld is better than a stack of “papers”.