A few years ago I ran into a pipe welder friend of mine who told me of his friend who is a CWI.
The guy was sitting in an air conditioned trailer watching pipe welders weld for a cool $5,000 a week. About a year ago I talked to another welder friend who knew a man and wife couple – both were CWIs on the same job, making $9,000 a week. Yes, your first job as a CWI might be $20 an hour, but at least there is some place to go. Find out what it takes to be one.
Are you color blind?
I am so color blind it is scary. I thought I would have been a CWI, but I can’t pass a colorblind test, and that’s the first thing the AWS wants from you. So, if you are color blind, you can stop reading right now.
Do you have at least five years of welding experience?
If you don’t, you can still study for the CWI, take the test, and if you pass, you can work as a CWI helper. If you have a college degree you’ll get some credit toward qualifying. IF you’re a mechanical engineer, you can become a CWI without welding experience.
How long will you have to study?
I passed the International Code Council Welding and Bolting Inspector test after I studied for 3 months (and I mean most of everyday during that period). I actually just failed, took it again two weeks later and passed. I’m NOT a genius, but I’m not an idiot either. I’m telling you this, because when someone tells you all you have to do is sit in a crash class for a week (and $2,000) and you’ll pass – I think they are nuts!
What books will you need?
There are just three books you’ll need. Two come from the AWS (check out their website). One is D1.1 which is the welding code bible. Next is a little prep book from AWS. The third is “Welding Principals and Practices” by Larry Jeffus. I don’t know how your mind works, but I literally read them all twice, from cover to cover, and then I started to study them.
After reading this article, I’m afraid I have scared you away from the CWI. You can do it. Even if you fail it a dozen times and then pass – all the pain of failing will fall away instantly when you pass. Becoming a CWI is perfect for older welders – they can use their experience while doing a less physically demanding job for the rest of their careers. So, go for it, but start out determined to stay the course until victory is achieved.