How do I get Welding Certification?

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  • Originally Written By: Carol Francois
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2018
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The process for getting welding certification depends in large part on where you are, since local authorities are usually the ones setting the standards and making the rules. In most cases, though, getting certified requires a combination of education, whether formal or informal, and on-the-job experience. A test or exam might also be required; this can be written or performance-based, which means that you may have to actually demonstrate your skills to one or more experts in order to pass. Certification rarely guarantees a job, but it can help you stand out when applying for a job or looking to advance your career.

Research Local Rules

The very first thing you should do is look into what types of certification are available in your jurisdiction and what the requirements are for each. Welders can often get different credentials for different materials and can sometimes certify at different safety levels, too. Your local welder’s or trade association should be able to give you more specific information about what’s available where you live or where you want to work.


Training and Education

Even though there are no hard-and-fast universal requirements, education — which is to say, experience using the tools, handling the equipment, and getting results — is a good place to start. The best place to learn is often by working alongside of someone more experienced, which is called “apprenticing.” If you don’t know any welders willing to take on informal students, it may be worth it to ask around; many professionals will help you, or may at least be able to direct you to someone who will.

More formal training can also be helpful. Short programs in welding are often available from community and vocational colleges at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels. A lot depends on the school, but these types of courses tend to be between eight and 12 weeks in length. They usually deliver a combination of theoretical training and hands-on practice with welding equipment. Successful students are typically awarded a diploma spelling out the skills they have demonstrated and mastered.

Even if a diploma or other “official” training course isn’t required to get certification, it can be a good way to network with other professionals and make connections in the field, both of which are useful when you’re just getting started. Taking formal courses might also be smart if you plan to move at some point into a jurisdiction that does require a diploma.


Testing is a big part of almost every type of welding certification. The exact process varies, but candidates usually have to demonstrate their skills in front of a board of examiners at an official testing location, usually a government or locality-owned metal shop. Applicants are generally tested on any equipment or materials for which they seek certification, and welds are evaluated for such things as fit-up, assembly, and position, as well as overall integrity and workmanship. In some places, this “practical” exam is paired with a written test covering safety procedures and general information on tools and materials. In most cases you will have to pay a fee to be tested, and may owe fees for credentialing paperwork, too, if you pass.

Reporting Requirements

Certified welders may also have to file paperwork somewhat regularly in order to maintain their credentials. Maintenance forms are among the most common. These forms must be submitted to the credentialing agency at intervals ranging from every six months to every other year. They confirm that the person holding the certificate is performing only the welds for which he or she is certified, and usually have to be signed by an employer. If you let this certification lapse you may have to repeat the whole examination process.

Certification in Context

It’s important to note that you don’t usually have to be certified in order to find work, though there are usually more opportunities for people who have gone through the process. The purpose of welding certification is to validate that workers have a specific level of skill and training. Some local governments and project managers may require certification for certain jobs or projects, and many of the best paying jobs require certifications for multiple procedures and materials. Not having these credentials doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get a job, but it may make your options more limited.


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Discuss this Article

Post 16

Burns, heat, fumes and work environment don't bother you? Great. You're in the right trade. Get a good helmet, one old school helmet, know your rods (at first sight, or what process), weld symbols, learn your metal (first sight knowledge), know your heat settings for metal thickness. Always remember to breathe and enjoy your trade. Like I always say, "It's all in the hands." You're the boss, not the rod. Go make that money.

Post 15

I've worked as a welder for 10 years. I have a lot of experience and now I need someone to tell me how become a certified welder.

Post 13

Before you strike an arc, your tools must be inspected hence (certified) by an authorized inspector, so no matter what, you will always have to test before you make money welding, so a certification will not even get you a cup of coffee. Just go for it. I have been welding for 15 years and for it, I never spent one penny for a welding cert. and never busted a weld.

Post 11

I want to test out for my 4G or 6G certification. I've been welding since I was 14 years old and don't need schooling. I just simply want to test out and receive my certification. I'm in Kansas. Can someone please tell me where I could go to become certified without attending classes?

Please help me. I'm getting my own rig and just need to know where to become certified, I'm desperate. Any advice will be taken seriously!

Post 8

I have a Red Seal from Ontario and a few current welding tickets. I am looking to go out west to weld again, and they need me to have CWB flux core. If I take it, the cost is $500. Is there a way I can get the government to pay it since I'm on EI now?

Post 6

My nuclear pipe (6000 PSI) certification cost was $2500 in 1984 and I had to go to Atlanta, GA. to take it.

If you get a certification through a company you work for and you one day leave that company, most companies will allow you to purchase your certification (if you can afford it)! --Paul

Post 5

@Gregg 1956: I passed my first (of many) welding certifications in 1977 (ES 7018 all position, unlimited thickness.)

You do not have to go to any school to become a certified welder. What you need is tons of hours of practice with an already certified welder coaching you.

It depends on what type of welding you are interested in (stick, mig, tig, sub-arc, innershield, gas, dymetrics, etc) and the type of metal you want to weld (mild steel, stainless, titanium, aluminum, cast, etc) whether it be machinery, pipe, structural etc.) --Paul

Post 4

Not all welding certification is permanent though -- sometimes you have to periodically retake the welding certification test, or just pay to get your certification renewed.

Post 3

@gregg1956 -- Welding can be a really profitable career, and fun if you enjoy that kind of thing.

The best tip for getting certified is to find someone who teaches welding certification courses at a local school or community college.

They will oftentimes give you tips for getting the certification the first time around, and often provide certification at a much lower costs.

If you already weld, but are just looking to get certified, then a lot of times the instructor will come to your shop to certify you, so you can work with tools you're familiar with.

Hope that helps!

Post 2

Can somebody reading this who has been a welder tell me a little about the job?

I'm curious about what kind of classes you need to take, and what some good tips for getting certified are.

Post 1

Actually you don’t need to be a certified welder to work on the job! All high end welding jobs require passing a welder qualification test to get in. These tests many times are more difficult than a Welding Certifcation!

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