What is a Welding Supervisor?
Welding Supervisors combine management skills with an extensive knowledge of welding processes and welding economics to plan, staff, monitor and safely deliver welding projects according to schedule and budget. These responsibilities place Welding Supervisors in a unique position to increase productivity and product quality in every industry that uses welding as a core process in the manufacture of their products.
Why Is This An Important Role?
Welding Supervisors are critical to a company’s productivity and profitability. According to a joint American Welding Society and National Shipbuilding Research Program report on Welding Supervisor Training and Certification, a Welding Supervisor helps reduce welding costs, increase productivity and profitability, and make a company more competitive. The oversight of a Welding Supervisor can reduce welding costs by over $17,000 per welder, per year, while maintaining production quality and proper safety protocols.
What Career Opportunities Are Available to Welding Supervisors?
Welding Supervisors’ ability to reduce costs while maintaining quality and safety standards makes them highly valued employees in every industry that uses welding as a core process in the manufacture, construction, or fabrication of their products. However, they are most common in manufacturing, shipbuilding, automotive, construction, engineering, and fabrication industries.
The Welding Supervisor’s extensive knowledge of welding operations and interpersonal, supervisory, and leadership skills serve as a solid foundation for upper-management positions. A large portion of Welding Supervisors seek to augment their knowledge and skills by obtaining training and certification as Welding Inspectors. Welding Supervisors that double as Welding Inspectors have more flexibility in a competitive job market.
How Do I Get Started?
Candidates who seek to become a Welding Supervisor will discover there is more than one path to success. No formal degree is required but training and work experience in welding and management are generally required. An advanced degree or a combination of vocational instruction and on-the-job training is needed to ensure that candidates have the full range of knowledge and skills required to accomplish the technical, logistical and economic aspects of the job.
Welding Supervisors plan, manage, and optimize the activities of welding personnel in order to safely produce quality welded products in the most efficient manner possible. Their responsibilities can be divided into three general categories: (1) quality, (2) productivity, and (3) safety.
Quality: The Welding Supervisor must ensure that welders are trained to create welds according to the applicable Welding Procedure Specification. He must then plan and monitor production to ensure that the welds are being produced according to the variables listed in the WPS and the applicable quality standard. To achieve first-time quality the Welding Supervisor will identify and correct poor fit-up and welding practices that generate excessive rework and scrap. The Welding Supervisor may also verify the quality of the materials used in the manufacture of the welded product.
Productivity: The Welding Supervisor optimizes the variables listed in the Welding Procedure Specification in order to produce the welded work as efficiently as possible. To this end he ensures the timely availability of the required materials, streamlines the sequence of operations, and monitors welder machine settings and performance in order to achieve the highest arc times and deposition rates that can be attained within the limits set by the applicable WPS and quality standard. To further maximize productivity, the Welding Supervisor will identify and correct poor fitting, overwelding, and other practices that waste materials and produce excessive rework, scrap, work effort, motion and delay time. Finally, the Welding Supervisor will document the production process and calculate manufacturing costs in order to identify areas that need improvement and accurately estimate the cost of future projects.
Safety: The Welding Supervisor is responsible for training welders in the proper use of personal protective equipment and the safe operation of welding machines and tools. He also coordinates safety-related functions and personnel, ensures welder adherence to safety protocols, and verifies that all equipment is operating within safe limits.
The duties of a Welding Supervisors may also include:
- Communicate job expectations and performance requirements to welders
- Liaison with designer, client and other stakeholders to maximize efficiency, quality and customer satisfaction
- Develop welding procedures
- Provide root cause analysis and execute corrective action plans
- Initiate, coordinate and enforce production, safety, and quality systems, policies, and procedures
- Ensure that all welding meets the specified requirements before inspection is initiated
- Ensure that all welding inspection tasks are performed
- Ensure that parent material and consumables meet specifications
- Act as a technical resource
- Maintain records, inspection results, and performance documentation
- Prepare clear and concise reports
- Highly motivated and self-directed
- Organized and detail oriented
- Effective communicator
- Effective leader
- Honest and diplomatic
- Sound judgment and tact
- Good hand-to-eye coordination and physical strength
Important Skills & Knowledge
- Ability to demonstrate the proper use of common welding and cutting processes
- Ability to optimize welding productivity and performance
- Ability to interpret welding symbols and technical drawings
- Ability to give clear visual, written, and oral instruction
- Knowledge of welding economics
- Knowledge of joint design
- Knowledge of materials and their weldability characteristics
- Knowledge of filler metal types and characteristics
- Knowledge of project management methodology
- Knowledge of welder and welding safety standards
- Knowledge of welding inspection
- Strong analytical thinking and problem solving skills
- Strong speaking, writing, and listening skills
- Strong leadership skills
The education requirements for a Welding Supervisor vary by employer. Some employers require a high school diploma and a minimum amount of experience while others prefer candidates who hold a vocational or postsecondary degree in addition to formal training and work experience. The Education and Experience Requirements in Clause 6 of AWS B5.9 Specification for the Qualification of Welding
Supervisors can serve as a guide to help you determine the programs and courses that can best prepare you for a career as a Welding Supervisor.
The most common postsecondary areas of study for Welding Supervisors include:
- Welding Technology
- Welding Engineering
- Welding and Fabrication Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Production Engineering
- General Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Materials Science
TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT
Most employers require a fair amount of work experience in addition to educational certificates and degrees. The experience requirements in Clause 6 and 7 of AWS B5.9 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Supervisors can serve as a guide to the type of experience that can best prepare you for a career as a Welding Supervisor.
In order to qualify for AWS certification, the prospective Welding Supervisor must have a fundamental understanding of the welding and cutting processes listed in Clause 7.2 and have a minimum of 3 years of practical experience in either the design, production, construction, inspection or repair of weldments fabricated to a code or standard in a fabrication, construction, or welding related industry. The AWS B5.9 Specification allows three years of relevant teaching experience to be substituted for one year of the practical experience requirement.
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.
The AWS Certified Welding Supervisor Certification is an internationally recognized credential that companies have come to rely on to ensure quality, productivity, and safety. AWS certification confirms an individual’s ability to direct and perform the operations required of a Welding Supervisor in accordance with the high standards encompassed in AWS B5.9 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Supervisors. Therefore, AWS Certification often translates into opportunities for increased recognition, responsibility, and pay.
Here are 8 steps to becoming a CWS:
STEP 1: Download complimentary copies of AWS B5.9 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Supervisors and AWS QC13 Specification for the Certification of Welding Supervisors from the AWS website. Both documents outline every aspect of the CWS program and exam. The B5.9 Specification covers the knowledge and skills required of a CWS, while the QC9 Specification provides a detailed overview of the CWS exam requirements and process.
STEP 2: Compare your skills and knowledge to those required of a Certified Welding Supervisor. This can be accomplished in one of two ways:
- Complete your WeldLink Profile and add “Welding Supervisor” as a career path. This will automatically compare your current knowledge and skills to those of the typical welding supervisor, and provide you with a career roadmap that includes the additional education, training and experience required to become CWS; or
- Review Clause 5 and the Body of Knowledge in Annex A of the B5.9 Specification and perform a self-assessment. Mark the areas where your level of competence compares to a working CWS. Any areas left unmarked will indicate where you need additional knowledge, training, or experience.
Step 3: Determine if you qualify to sit for the AWS Certified Welding Supervisor Exam. Candidates must have a high school diploma, or a state or military approved equivalent diploma, and three years of practical welding experience in fabrication, construction, or a welding-related industry. Relevant teaching experience may be substituted for work experience. For a detailed summary of the education and experience requirements, review Clause 6 and 7 of the B5.9 Specification.
STEP 4: Obtain the skills, knowledge, and experience required of an AWS Certified Welding Supervisor. There are many resources available, including your local AWS Section and self-paced, online training programs like the CWS Pre-Seminar scheduled for release by AWS Learning in 2015.
STEP 5: Register for the Certified Welding Supervisor 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 knowledge and skills. The live, 5-day AWS Certified Welding Supervisor Seminar reviews the body of knowledge required of a CWS and prepares candidates for the CWS exam given at the end of each seminar week.
As an alternative to the live seminar, candidates will soon have the opportunity to take advantage of the AWS online certification program. The online AWS Certified Welding Supervisor Seminar is a comprehensive, self-paced, interactive program that covers the body of knowledge required of a CWS and prepares participants for the CWS certification exam.
STEP 7: Take the CWS exam. The CWS Certification exam is comprised of two multiple choice, open book tests. One exam covers the fundamentals of welding supervision and consists of 150 questions. The other exam covers welding practices and economics and consists of 30 questions. Candidates are given two hours to complete each of the exams and must correctly answer at least 70% of the questions to pass. The weighting for the subjects and tasks covered in the exams is listed in Annex A of AWS B5.9 Specification for the Qualification of Welding Supervisors.
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:
- AWS Manual for Quality and Productivity Improvement
- Economics of Welding and Cutting
- Standard Symbols For Welding, Brazing, and Nondestructive Examination
Need more information about what it means to be a Certified Welding Supervisor? Take a look at our most recent blog entry:
AWS Certified Welding Supervisor (Online Course) - Coming Soon