What is a Welding Educator?
Welding Educators, also known as welding instructors, trainers, or teachers, educate others in the theories and practical methods of welding. More specifically, welding educators use their conceptual and practical understanding of welding and welding instruction in order teach a wide range of welding knowledge and skills, including, but not limited to, welding techniques, positioning, fit-up, equipment set-up, welding theory, metallurgy and weldability of metals, print reading, utilizing welding codes and standards, and even inspection of welds. Welding educators are in a unique position to help address the current shortage of well trained and versatile welders required in a wide range of highly innovative industries.
Why Is This An Important Role?
Welding Educators have the unique opportunity to teach, motivate, and inspire whole generations of skilled welders whose contribution to the modern world will reach around the globe and far into the future. This is a significant task considering that there are not nearly enough new welders to make up for the number of aging welders that retire each year. Thus, welding educators often take on important roles as industry spokespersons and activists, working to reverse negative public perceptions about welding careers and collaborating with business and government representatives to develop new and more effective ways to meet the employment needs of industries that use welding as a core process in the manufacture of their products.
These industries represent all the major sectors of the economy from manufacturing, construction, and transportation to energy, medicine, and electronics. They also represent billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. alone. Yet, these industries will only be able to keep pace with rapid innovation and an increasingly competitive global market if welding educators produce a highly skilled and efficient cadre of welders capable of immediately applying, adapting and growing their knowledge and skills.
What Career Opportunities Are Available to Welding Educators?
Quality Welding Educators are needed in numerous sectors, including schools, unions, government, and company training programs across a variety of industries such as automobiles and agriculture. Consequently, veteran welders looking for an opportunity to share their knowledge and skills will find this career pathway especially rewarding. Welding education also offers a longstanding opportunity for young professionals who desire to teach in a booming industry. For professionals in search of opportunities abroad, welding education positions exist in many countries throughout the world.
How Do I Get Started?
Welding Educators must demonstrate a theoretical and practical mastery of welding applications, procedures and industry standards. Therefore, employers typically require an associate’s degree in welding technology or other closely related field as well as a minimum amount of work experience. Many states also require that instructors obtain a state sponsored license or certification. The AWS B5.5 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Educators lists the education and experience requirements as well as the duties and capabilities required of an AWS Certified Welding Educator. Use this specification as a guide to help you determine the learning and employment opportunities that can best prepare you for entry into the field. Refer to your local community college for information about welding technology programs and your state’s department of education for licensing requirements.
- Career Spotlight
- Roles & Responsibilities
- Qualities, Knowledge, & Skills
- How Do I Become Certified?
- Where Are The Jobs?
- Associated Industries
- Related Careers
“You are more of an artist than you thought you were. Wait until you see what you are about to build!” Thar’s what metal sculptor and welding instructor Michael K. Patterson said to his nervous welding students as they began work on Student Bodies, a large scale welding project commissioned to mark the Pennsylvania College of Technology‘s centennial anniversary. Approximately 50 welding students used 7,000 pounds of scrap metal to create the installation, which features 78 life-sized “students” stomping across campus.
Patterson conducted the creative welding project so that students could use their skills and training to flex their artistic muscles and overcome real world welding challenges outside the comfortable confines of the welding booth. Some students related that the most challenging part of the project was “producing the 100-year welds” needed to ensure that the installation would last long enough to celebrate the institution’s bicentennial. Others struggled to weld irregular joints in odd positions. Yet, despite students’ difficulty finding the right-sized material, deciding what looked best on the sculpture, and determining when exactly a sculpture could be declared complete, Patterson’s belief in his students helped them realize that they really were better artists than they knew.
Not only did the experience enhance the students’ skills and confidence, it gave them a glimpse into the opportunities and gratification that comes with a career in welding. Much to Patterson’s credit, the students reveled in the lasting satisfaction that this project stirred within them. Welding and fabrication engineering technology major Matthew H. Gordon summed up their sentiments best when he said, “No matter when I come back and visit over the years, my work will be there. No matter what happens in life, this art will still be there with my name on some of it.”
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Welding Educators design and deliver instruction in the theory and practical applications of welding in classroom, laboratory, and field environments.
Their responsibilities can be divided into three general categories: instruction, mentorship and supervision
Instruction: Welding Educators prepare and deliver all lecture, laboratory and practical instruction according to defined curriculum and welding standards. They develop and implement instructional strategies and course materials, measure the educational experience of their students based on desired outcomes, and evaluate the effectiveness of educational programs. Because welding education is most often geared towards the attainment of certifications and gainful employment, welding educators employ strategies and evaluation methods designed to ensure that students can produce welds according to specified acceptance criteria.
Mentorship: Welding Educators counsel students on course selection, career decisions, and other academic and vocational issues. Welding Educators must also model positive behavior in order to create a positive and safe environment in which students can learn to value and practice respect, cooperation, responsibility, honesty, resourcefulness, and other behaviors that will benefit them throughout their careers.
Supervision: Welding Educators must ensure that all equipment remains in good working order and adheres to all applicable safety regulations. They must likewise instruct students in the safe operation of the equipment and monitor their use at all times. Welding Educators must also oversee welding tests and take corrective action when necessary for safety, troubleshooting, and quality assurance purposes.
The duties of a Welding Educator may also include:
- Develop new curricula, course content, and methods of instruction
- Use applicable standards to identify student outcomes, means of assessment, and improvement strategies
- Provide supplemental learning activities such as online courses and study materials
- Provide for individualized or remedial instruction
- Prepare and maintain records such as attendance rosters, student grades, book orders, and leave reports
- Participate in task forces designed to promote welding and welding education
- Participate in recruitment activities to gain and retain welding students
- Attend seminars, conferences, and courses to keep abreast of developments in the field
- Acquire, maintain and repair tools and equipment
ATTRIBUTES, KNOWLEDGE, AND SKILLS
- Highly motivated and self-directed
- Organized and detail oriented
- Effective communicator
- Effective leader
- Honest and diplomatic
- Sound judgment and tact
IMPORTANT SKILLS & KNOWLEDGE
- Knowledge of basic educational principles, practices and methodologies,
- Knowledge of competency-based curricula and general classroom and lab practices
- Ability to demonstrate the proper use of common welding processes
- Ability to demonstrate competent welding skills per the AWS QC7 standard or equivalent
- Ability to demonstrate the characteristics and operation of typical welding power sources
- Ability to explain and apply basic mathematical concepts
- Ability to build rapport and trust with students and faculty
- Ability to manage multiple duties
- Ability to interpret drawings, blueprints, and engineering documents
- Knowledge of materials and their weldability characteristics
- Knowledge of filler metal types and characteristics
- Knowledge of discontinuities and destructive and nondestructive test methods
- Knowledge of standard welding and cutting symbols
- Strong speaking, writing, and listening skills
- Strong leadership skills
- Strong analytical thinking and problem solving skills
The education requirements for a Welding Educator vary by employer. However, most employers require prospective Welding Educators to hold at least an associate's degree in welding technology or other closely related field and/or a minimum of 3 years of welding work experience. The Education and Experience Requirements in Clause 6 of AWS B5.5 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Educators, can serve as a guide to help you determine the programs and courses that can best prepare you for a career as a Welding Educator.
The most common postsecondary areas of study for Welding Educators include:
Welding and Fabrication Engineering
TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT
Welding Educators generally work for several years in the industry to gain professional experience before becoming teachers. Since welding is a skill utilized in many industries, welding educators can choose from a variety of professional settings in which to work and obtain training. The Education and Experience Requirements in Clause 6 of AWS B5.5 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Educators can serve as a guide to help you determine the type of experience that can best prepare you for a career as a Welding Educator. In order to qualify for AWS certification, the prospective Welding Educator must have practical experience in welding instruction or in the design, production, construction, or examination of weldments fabricated to a code or other standard.
Many states also require that educators obtain a state sponsored license or certification. Refer to your state’s department of education for licensing requirements and consider becoming an AWS Certified Welding Educator. While not always required, certifications that attest to the soundness of an individual’s knowledge and skills can bolster their professional standing and increase opportunities for employment in a competitive job market.
HOW DO I BECOME CERTIFIED?
The American Welding Society offers a specialized certification for Welding Educators. The demanding requirements of the AWS Certified Welding Educator Certification confirms that an individual has the ability and experience to direct and perform operations associated with welder training and instruction in accordance with the high standards encompassed in AWS B5.5 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Educators. Therefore, AWS Certification often translates into opportunities for increased recognition, responsibility, and pay.
NOTE: The CWI and CWE exams are identical. The only difference is that CWE candidates do not have to take the Code Book portion of the exam (Part C) to earn certification. Therefore, CWE candidates may want to consider applying for the CWI certification at the same time they apply for the CWE certification.
Here are 8 steps to becoming a CWE:
STEP 1: Download complimentary copies of AWS B5.5 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Educators and AWS QC5-91 Standard for Certification of Welding Educators from the AWS website. Both documents outline every aspect of the CWE program and exam. The QC5-91 Standard covers the skills and knowledge required of a CWE, while the B5.5 Specification gives an overview of the various sections of the CWE exam.
STEP 2: Compare your knowledge and skills to those required of a Certified Welding Educator. This can be accomplished in one of two ways:
- Complete your WeldLink Profile and add “Welding Educator” as a career path. This will automatically compare your current skills and knowledge to those of the typical Welding Educator, and provide you with a career roadmap that includes the additional education, training and experience required to become a CWE; or
- Review Clause 6 and 9 of the B5.5 Specification and perform a self-assessment. Mark the areas where your level of competence compares to a working CWE. Any areas left unmarked will indicate where you will most likely need additional knowledge, training, or experience.
STEP 3: Determine if you qualify to sit for the AWS CWE Exam. Candidates must have a high school diploma, or a state or military approved equivalency diploma, and five years of experience in an occupational function that has a direct relationship to weldments fabricated to a code or standard in the areas of production, construction, inspection, or repair. For a detailed summary of the education and experience requirements, please refer to Clause 5 of the QC5-91 Standard.
STEP 5: Register for the Certified Welding Educator Exam through the online AWS registration system.
STEP 6: (Optional): Once a candidate has met the exam requirements, they simply have to pass it. Prior to doing so, some candidates realize they can benefit from taking a prep course to strengthen their skills and knowledge. The Welding Technology Workshop and Visual Inspection Workshop portions of the AWS Certified Welding Inspector Seminar can help you prepare for the Certified Welding Educator (CWE) certification exam.
STEP 7: Take the CWE exam. The exam is split into two parts: A and B. Part A is a two-hour exam consisting of at least 150 questions covering all facets of welding processes and non-destructive examination. Part B is a two-hour exam that requires you to use visual inspection tools, plastic replicas of welds and a sample codebook to answer at least 46 questions covering a wide range of topics including welding examination and nondestructive test processes. Successful participants must correctly answer at least 60% of the questions in each part of the exam.
STEP 8: Once you complete the exam, you can expect your test results within 2 to 3 weeks. If you pass, a certificate and wallet card will be mailed to the address on file along with your results. If you find any discrepancies or have any questions, please contact AWS immediately.
Candidates can refer to the following documents for self-study:
- CWE Body of Knowledge
- Welding Inspection Technology
- Welding Inspection Technology Workbook
- Visual Inspection Workshop Reference Manual
- D1.1 Structural Welding Code-Steel
- Metric Practice Guide for the Welding Industry
- Standard Symbols for Welding, Brazing, and Nondestructive Examination
- Standard Welding Terms and Definitions
- Guide for the Nondestructive Examination of Welds
- Specification for Welding Procedure and Performance Qualification
- Standard Methods for Mechanical Testing of Welds
- Specification for the Qualification of Welding Inspectors
- Standard for AWS Certification of Welding Inspectors
- Welding Inspection Handbook