Schaus-Vorhies takes pride in employing only the best people in their field. Welding is no different. We seek to hire only the best, most qualified welders around; true masters of their craft. They have to be accomplished. The structural integrity of fluid systems, decorative railings, and entire buildings rests on the quality of their work. If one weld should catastrophically fail, it could cost lives. Naturally, you can’t just hire anyone off the street and hand them a welder. It likely will not go well. How does someone go from not knowing the difference between an arc and a ground to being a welder with the skill to work at Schaus-Vorhies? Let’s take a look at some aspects, including welding training.
First, there are a few different ways to get the necessary qualifications. Some colleges have courses for welding, different trade schools, and unions that will train you as a welder. All will primarily be hands-on training programs given that welding is a skill that has to be learned and demonstrated physically and outside a typical classroom. The college and the trade school, of course, both cost a fair amount of money. In contrast, the union hall might not (this will undoubtedly vary), though you would need to join the union, which will require that you pay dues.
One place to start looking for certifications and proper training is the American Welding Society. This organization offers endorsement certifications for various welding disciplines, including structural steel, structural aluminum, and even aerospace. The certifications vary as to their training requirements. Some have extensive computer-based training and seminars; others encourage self-study with an exam when you are ready. Not that passing the exam means they think you are ready to weld. That gets you an Authorization to Test. You prove that you can put two pieces of metal together in such a way that they will stay together.
Another resource for gaining information about welding certifications is gowelding.org. This site has a lot of general information on the requirements of the testing and more of the certifications.
As for the training itself, this is where it gets tricky. There isn’t just one kind of welding certification. There are many different types of welding and materials that can be welded together. Because of this, there are, in fact, many different kinds of welding certifications depending on the types of welding you are trying to get into. So it isn’t just getting certified once and then you’re done. You aren’t necessarily done either once you are certified in a particular kind of welding. You will often need to do annual continuity checks in which you demonstrate that you have retained the ability to weld according to the relevant codes. This is important as welding, like many others, is a perishable skill. To put it another way, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
What are the actual requirements to pass a welding certification? Generally speaking, the requirements are that the materials to be welded are prepped and then welded according to instructions. The welds then have to be inspected. Depending on the precise nature of the certification, the inspections may involve destructive testing, a dye penetrant test, or just visual inspection.
In destructive testing, the most widely used variety is the bend test. If you are wondering what that consists of, it is precisely what it sounds like. The inspector takes the welded material and (after cutting it into manageable strips) places it in a bending machine to see how much the weld can take.
The dye penetrant method highlights defects on the surface of the weld but doesn’t do anything to detect internal problems. The visual approach is similar, though it is inherently subjective since it relies entirely on the inspector’s judgment.
One other form of non-destructive testing is radiographic/x-ray testing. Due to the use of high doses of gamma/x-rays, an inspector can get a good picture of the inside of the weld, enabling him to see any voids that would otherwise completely escape his notice. However, it also creates a potential health hazard. Any areas using this method should be clearly marked, so no one wanders in.
Once you have passed, you are certified. Then only one question remains. Do you have what it takes to be a welder for Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing?