Welding is an exciting and fast-growing career field. There are many different types of welding, and its applications are endless. With all the important things that welding is used for in our society, it is crucial to have codes in place to outline proper procedures for different kinds of welds and to test the competency of welders.
How do I become a coded welder? A coded welder must be at least 18 years old and possess either a high school diploma or a GED. You can take different paths, including training classes or an apprenticeship, but ultimately, you will have to pass a test specific to a welding code to prove your skills with that type of welding.
It can get a bit confusing with all the different types of welding and codes that there are. So let’s take a closer look at what it means to be a coded welder and how to become one.
What Is A Coded Welder?
Basically, a coded welder has passed a test to prove his or her ability to perform a specific type of welding.
The terminology used for welding classifications can often be confusing, as there are many different codes and levels of certification, and people tend to use less than precise language.
The terms “coded welder” and “certified welder” can sometimes be used interchangeably, but many welders will tell you that there is a distinction. Certification can sometimes be used as a more general term, referring to a documented level of skill.
Becoming a coded welder refers more specifically to the individual welding codes and someone’s ability to perform up to those codes. Many projects will require a welder who is certified for a specific code.
There is also a distinction to be made between a qualified welder and a certified welder. A qualified welder can perform a specific type of welding properly. A certified welder has this ability as well, but also has specific signed documentation testifying to his or her ability.
Certification cannot be obtained through one’s employer. It must be obtained from an outside agency. It is not always a requirement for a welder to be certified, but having a certification can be helpful, especially to advance in your career and earn higher wages.
What Are Welding Codes?
Modern welding has been around since the beginning of the 20th century. And the idea of fusing metals together has been around for a lot longer than that.
As welding has progressed and become more complex, there has been a greater need to establish codes and guidelines to enforce proper procedures in the industry.
Welding is used in a variety of industries, including construction, manufacturing, and transportation, so safety is obviously a major concern. This includes the safety of the welders themselves as they perform the work and the safety of the people using the items they have welded together.
Two of the most well-known sources of these codes are the American Welding Society (AWS), which was established in 1919, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), which was established in 1880. Each of these groups has produced hundreds of codes, guides, and standards to establish basic guidelines to regulate the industry. The AWS alone has over 240 codes.
And these codes cover a wide variety of areas within the broad topic of welding. There are codes for welders and for the welds that they are producing. And there are different types of codes for the various types of welding. Some of the most common types are MIG (metal inert gas), TIG (tungsten inert gas), and stick welding.
Some codes are specific to the different types of materials and thickness of the welded materials, as these differences will impact the welding techniques used. In addition, there are codes specific to the different industries that the welds will be used in.
These all have different requirements, which is why there is a need for specific codes, not just a general certification for welders and the welds they are making.
There are three different types of variables that are considered when it comes to welding codes:
- Essential variables. These are requirements, and if an essential variable is broken, it will result in a weld not being up to code.
- Non-essential variables. These are not as strict and will not change the quality or mechanical properties of the weld.
- Supplementary variables. These can impact the properties of the weld, and whether or not they are considered essential or non-essential will depend on whether impact testing is involved.
Becoming a Coded Welder
Becoming a coded welder may be required for a specific job, or it may be done to enhance your overall skill set and broaden the range of jobs that you are certified to perform.
The path to becoming a coded welder can vary, but it will typically involve a combination of training classes and on the job training and will culminate with a test for a specific code.
Different employers will have different requirements, but the basic educational requirement to become a welder is a high school diploma or GED. Training classes may be required for a certain job. And although it is not always required, there are also college degree programs in welding.
There is also a certain amount of learning on the job, and one way to do this is to complete an apprenticeship. A welder takes a specific path depending on the type of welding they want to do and the requirements of the company they want to work for.
How Are Qualifications Tracked?
There are different forms used to track qualification when it comes to welding codes. The three main forms are:
- Welding Procedure Specification (WPS). This is a document that lays out the approved procedure for a specific type of weld. It provides information that is specific to the type of welding and the type of materials being welded.
- Procedure Qualification Record (PQR). This is a record that documents the data that was used in developing the WPS.
- Welder Performance Qualification (WPQ). This is the official documentation that states what the welder has done and what it qualifies them to do.
To pass the test, you must take the following steps:
- Obtain a copy of the WPS for the code for which you want to earn your certification
- Familiarize yourself with it and practice that specific type of weld
- Schedule a test with a certified welding inspector
- Take the test, which will typically include a written section and a hands-on demonstration of competence
Once you successfully pass the test, you will be certified to perform welding jobs that fall under that code. This can be useful when a specific code is referenced on a project, and it requires a coded welder to perform the work.
Related reading: How to Become a Certified Welder in Pennsylvania?
How Can I Prepare for the Tests?
You may be one of those people who doesn’t do well on tests. If that is the case, there are numerous places to practice welding tests. Tests.com has a practice tests here.
Proprofs.com is another site to look into. If you can pass these tests, you should be good to go. If not, those sites and others will sell testing materials.
Welding codes can be complicated. With so many of them covering so many specific kinds of welds, learning about welding codes can be a lifelong process. But to become a successful welder, it is crucial to be familiar with them. The more different types of welds that you can gain proficiency in, the more successful you will be in your welding career.
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