What I studied to become a CWI.

 

When I got my driver’s license, I studied and had actually driven a car before the “test”. Prior to becoming “certified” as a welding inspector by the AWS, I had actually studied and inspected welds before taking the test. However today, many want to become certified SO they can inspect. That’s fine and the results of such a thought process are clear when I see some of the questions asked and have performed follow-up inspections behind erector CWI’s. I do understand we all make mistakes and I for one have made MANY.

My point is this, NOTHING stops you from utilizing the acceptance criteria in a codebook and inspecting welds, reviewing documents, or monitoring fabrication requirements before becoming “Certified”. Of course, you may have to do it on your own dime or while your welding.

Becoming familiar with codes and applying those requirements to actual welds you make or observe is a good way to get started “practicing” welding inspection.  Take the time to look into the content of a specific codebook and use those criteria on welds you may see. Practice writing a report using AWS Terms and Definitions. A walk down a staircase with the acceptance criteria from D1.1 in your hands, a notepad, a camera, and some weld gauges can make for some interesting “practice”.

SELF STUDY VS CLASSROOM

I really cannot compare the two since my only experience has been with self-study but I have included a few comments and links below that may help. Even with a formal course, “self Study” should be part of your time leading up to the course, during the course, after the course, and during your career! It’s my opinion that a couple of weeks cramming months or years worth of information into your head is NOT the way to go! Get “good” at something 1st, then become “certified”!

Your education before “CWI Training”

In many general welding training programs, welding inspection is only on slightly covered as are codes and thier use and navigation. But in many cases, students leave with little understanding of what is involved with welding inspection. The classes are often filled with wives tales and misconceptions based solely on the instructors experiences or “what they heard”. It’s sometimes much more than looking at a completed weld. The “core” to welding inspection is knowing what is specified, how to verify it, and how to report it. There are a great many ways to build these skills.

Below are some materials I used for increasing my knowledge about welding inspection.

Certification Manual for Welding Inspectors CM: 2000 This is not the version I used, however, I used the 1980 Version. I suggest answering all the questions on paper. Then grading them to get a baseline. Try not to look at the correct answer when grading but go back to the question and try to find out where you were wrong.
Welding Handbook Volume 1, 9th Edition It is my opinion based on taking three tests without taking any courses and studying on my own, the information contained in this book addresses all the items needed for the fundamentals and practical. Regardless of becoming a CWI or not, If you are going to work as a welding inspector, welding technician, or any type of welding professional, you should have this book and READ IT. In addition to the chapters listed below, there is an appendix of terms and definitions and metric practice guide.

Here are the chapters. These can now be purchased individually.

Chapter 1 WHC1.01 SURVEY OF JOINING, CUTTING, AND ALLIED PROCESSES
Chapter 2 WHC1.02 PHYSICS OF WELDING AND CUTTING
Chapter 3 WHC1.03 HEAT FLOW IN WELDING
Chapter 4 WHC1.04 WELDING METALLURGY
Chapter 5 WHC1.05 DESIGN FOR WELDING
Chapter 6 WHC1.06 TEST METHODS FOR EVALUATING WELDED JOINTS
Chapter 7 WHC1.07 RESIDUAL STRESS AND DISTORTION
Chapter 8 WHC1.08 SYMBOLS FOR JOINING AND INSPECTION
Chapter 9 WHC1.09 WELDMENT TOOLING AND POSITIONING
Chapter 10 WHC1.10 MONITORING AND CONTROL OF WELDING AND JOINING PROCESSES
Chapter 11 WHC1.11 MECHANIZED, AUTOMATED AND ROBOTIC WELDING
Chapter 12 WHC1.12 ECONOMICS OF WELDING AND CUTTING
Chapter 13 WHC1.13 WELD QUALITY
Chapter 14 WHC1.14 WELDING INSPECTION AND NONDESTRUCTIVE EXAMINATION
Chapter 15 WHC1.15 QUALIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION
Chapter 16 WHC1.16 CODES AND OTHER STANDARDS
Chapter 17 WHC1.17 SAFE PRACTICES



Welding Inspection Handbook WI: 2000–  Never used this for study since much of the content is in the AWS Welding Handbook. It would still be a good book to have as it is a bit more portable.
Welding |Inspection Technology  These include a textbook, workbook, and practical section. I have never used or seen them but do know they are used as the only reference in some training classes. 
Various Codes and Standards Do NOT get hung up on not having a current codebook as you study to become an inspector. Becoming familiar with reading the language, using the Table of Contents or Index, understanding the context of requirements and many other skills can be developed using any code. Though not part of the fundamentals, the exposure to terms and statements will build your knowledge.

Open Code Book Study Comments

You should look at the BOK to verify what code edition you will be using. I strongly suggest using the code(s) you will be expecting to work in. Not because that’s whats on the test but because it will make you a better inspector. I wonder how many API 1104 test takers actually work in that code?  You should always focus on learning HOW to use the code vs whats “IN THE CODE”.  Understanding the applicable sections and how they work is far more useful than TABBING in my opinion. If you would like to see some real codes, check out the links here. Note that these are not current editions but may help you become more at ease with reading codes.

Practical Study Comments

Studying for the practical can be difficult if you are not familiar with using the tools commonly used by an inspector AND understand how to navigate and interpret the specifications. Using a 6″ scale, one can often measure to within +/- .010 easily. But you have to know how to use it. Get the tools, use them!  I never saw plastic replicas before my 1st test. I don’t think they are needed for study. Measure and inspect some welds and bends. Look into the content of the sample code. Learn how to use it. Be aware of differences between procedure qualification and performance qualification. I am not familiar with the “NEW PRACTICAL” exam and how it differs. In my brain, inspection is inspection! You have criteria, an item to inspect, tools to support the inspection, and reporting. Since I haven’t taken classes on the new exam or the old one, who knows, I may be lost. Download the BOS I have here or from the AWS site and learn how to use it. Become familiar with how its laid out, where specific content is and then use it. Take the BOS with you and go to a building and take the stairs. you should be able to find some weld in there.

Conclusion

Understand that we all learn differently but that we can adapt to many methods of learning. one of the keys to learning is application and discussion with others going through the same process. Feel free to make comments. Don’t discount the power of social learning. Taking a look at the posts on the original AWS Forum can let you see many of the trials and suggestions related to becoming a CWI. Here is a sample search for some relevant information. If you are reading this in the weldingclassroom.org Moodle site, then USE THE DISCUSSION FORUM!

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