Accredited Test Facility FAQs

What is a certification?

A welding certification lets employers know that you have successfully completed a practical test of your ability to perform one type of sound weld in accordance with industry standards. This certification is in the form of a short-term pocket card which must be renewed every six months, or it will expire.

What is involved in the test?

This is a practical welding test only; there is no classroom time. The first hour will be dedicated to instruction in safety and review of the applicable Welding Procedure Specification (WPS) governing your test. You will have a chance to familiarize yourself with the machine and the settings. One hour maximum. You will then be asked to properly set up a plate/pipe with the correct root opening (with/without backing) and place it in the proper position. Our qualified welding inspectors will ensure that you have applied a sound root weld before asking you to move forward. The next stage includes applying a hot pass - to be inspected by a test supervisor - and applying the final cover pass to the weld plate/pipe. Our test supervisor will give a final visual inspection of the plate/pipe to see if the test piece is acceptable for the destructive testing portion of the AWS Welding Certification.

What can I expect during the certification testing process?

To become certified, you must first possess the skills necessary to produce a sound weld that is visually acceptable and meets the testing requirements. If you do not possess these skills before arriving for your test, there is no time for instruction during the testing process. The testing inspector will not give welding lessons or conduct class. The testing procedure requires you to make a weld under supervision that is then tested by an inspector, to ensure the weld conforms to a particular Code, Standard, or written Welding Procedure Specification. Testing methods include Visual Inspection, and may involve either Destructive or Non-Destructive Testing. In a typical welding test or certification, you must demonstrate acceptable welding techniques by following a set of written instructions contained in the Welding Procedure Specification (WPS) to produce the weld specimen for testing. Using Code requirements, the welding inspector (test supervisor) will guide you through the preparation process of the pieces and assembly, and periodically check your progress to ensure conformity to the Code and Standards of the AWS Certified Welder Test. Your weld coupons will be examined and tested to make sure they are satisfactory welds. An example of Destructive Testing is when the inspector prepares a specimen from the weld and bends the specimen against the weld to determine if it meets the requirements of the standard. An example of Non-Destructive Testing is when a completed weld joint undergoes an x- ray, ultrasonic, magnetic particle, or an eddy current test. The inspector reads the x- ray film or interprets the reading for testing purposes to determine if it meets the requirements of the standard. There is no one universal test to certify welders to all welding conditions. Welders may have to be certified in each process used (SMAW, GMAW, GTAW, & FCAW, etc.) and for each group of metals (mild steel, stainless, aluminum, etc.). Some tests restrict the thickness of metals that can be welded, as well as the direction of travel. Tests can be done with or without backing, and with various joint designs. In addition, some tests cover all positions of welding while some restrict positions. You may only be certified to do what you were tested for, so ask questions about your qualification if necessary.

Who conducts the certification?

The American Welding Society (AWS) has developed a program for certifying welders to national standards that is recognized by many industries. VPCC is an AWS Accredited Testing Facility with Certified Welding Inspectors (CWIs) capable of conducting the AWS certification.

What does my certification mean?

A certification is specific to a certain code and set of variables that allow repetition of demonstrated skills.Certification in one process does not extend to any other welding processes. For example, a welder certified in SMAW is not certified to weld with GMAW. Certification is specific to variables such as base metal, filler metal, welding position, direction of travel, joint design, joint configuration and thickness of material.

How much does the Virginia Peninsula AWS Certification cost?

You may view the prices associated here. Please note, prices may change depending on the market price for materials. In addition, a $35 fee is required for each AWS Certification weld test. This is included in the tuition of the class.

What type of test should I take?

Please know the type of certification you would like to test for prior to calling to set up an appointment. Consult your company's welding engineer, quality control engineer or QA manager for the proper test. If you are self-employed, please conduct research to ensure the certification matches the work you will be performing. Also consider other qualifications that may cover the positions you will be welding.

What does the testing inspector do?

The testing inspector's or test supervisor's primary function is to document each step as is performed , and witness and verify that the welding test is being conducted according to the rules and regulation of AWS D1.1:2010 Structural Steel Welding Code, and AWS D1.3-98 Structural Steel Sheet Welding Code. The testing inspector will not give welding lessons or conduct class.

What should I bring to my certification test?

Please be prepared to bring and/or use the following items during your welding test: • Safety glasses/goggles to cover prescription glasses • Welding helmet (min. 10 Shade filter) • Welding cap for head and ear protection • Leather boots at least above the ankles • Welding jackets 100 percent cotton/leather sleeves type • Welding gloves heavy double insulated for S.M.AW./G.M.A.W. • Wire brush for cleaning weld • Chipping hammer for removal of slag/dross • Pliers/ vise grips for handling hot metal • Grinder 4.00"or 4.500" diameter for welds conditioning/cleaning • Bring your own lunch, One hour lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00pm • Suitable full length cotton jeans or cotton trousers with absolutely no holes or frayed edges

I've taken the certification test and passed. When can I expect to receive my certification?

You will learn if you passed the test the same day as your test; however, AWS will receive your application, test results and $35 registration fee, paid by Virginia Peninsula, up to two weeks AFTER your certification test. Expect to receive your qualification card and supply of certification maintenance forms from the AWS Certification Department in four to six weeks.

How long is my AWS Certification valid?

According to the official AWS website your certification remains valid as long as you submit your certification maintenance forms every six months as required by the Code of Acceptance that governed your test. As long as you can verify (have your employer sign the form) that you are still performing the same welding as you originally tested for, your certification remains in effect.

Does Virginia Peninsula offer company and/or group training?

Company and group rates are available. Services can even include testing at your facility for a large group. Contact us at 757-825-4076 to see if you qualify, and he can refer you to a contract specialist to help you meet your needs.

How often does VPCC offer the AWS Certification Test?

Testing for 2015 will be on the third Friday of the month. Please contact the AWS Testing Coordinator, at 757-825-4076 for more information.

Where is the VPCC testing site?

VPCC's AWS Certification tests take place on the VPCC's Hampton Campus at 600 Butler Farm Road, Suite A Hampton, Virginia 23666.