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Getting a Welding Certificate: What You Need to Know

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If you are applying to work at a welding shop, most likely you will be asked to test your skills. Larger shops will probably require you to show proof that your certifications are up to date.

Certifications are available for a variety of welding processes in order to test people’s ability to do sound welds. If you are applying for a job in MIG, TIG, or stick welding, you’ll have to reach a certain level of skill for the process before you receive your certification.

Levels of proficiency

Oftentimes, these are levels of proficiency are designated with shorthand letters/numbers. For example: Jobs may need a welder certified at a 4-G level. The G stands for groove welding. The number 4 denotes the position of the welder in relation to the work. Here are different positions, increasing with the level of difficulty.

  1. Flat position – In this position, the welder will look down on a joint while standing or sitting at a table. This is the position students start out in.
  2. Horizontal position – Here is where you weld a joint from left to right as you work across from it.
  3. Vertical position – The weld joint faces you vertically as you view it straight on. Here, you can weld the joint from top to bottom (“vertical down”) or bottom to top (“vertical up”).
  4. Overhead position – For this position you work under the piece, looking up at it as you move from right to left (“pushing the rod”) or left to right (“dragging the rod”).

Metal thickness

Certification tests are based on a few other factors than work plate positioning, one of which is base metal thickness. Obviously, the thicker the metal is, the more passes are required to fill the joint. Thus, the thicker the metal, the more opportunity there is for error. Entry-level welders can get certified with half-inch plates, with one inch usually being the biggest you’ll have to master.

Passing the test

Certifications are usually performed on the job or at a welding school. You can do them privately, but it will cost you hundreds of dollars, and you need to ensure that the tester is a licensed certified welding inspector.

The point in getting certified is to pass the most difficult welder qualification test. If you are able to successfully weld a groove join in the vertical and overhead positions, then you would get a 3G and 4G certification, and you would not be required to do any of the tests below that level.

Pipe welders who have lots of experience are able to do more than a 4G certification. 5G requires pipe welding in the vertical position. 6G, which is considered the gold standard of the welding profession, means they can weld all the way around a pipe that is stationary.  

Although we are not a fabrication shop that offers certification testing, all of our welders are AWS certified. If you have any questions regarding welding—or how we might be able to help you with your welding needs—don’t hesitate to reach out.