[Skip to content]

.

National and international qualifications for welding personnel

Eur Ing T J Jessop, TWI

Paper published in Welding & Cutting, Issue 3, May/June 2005.

Introduction

Much has happened over the last 20 years in the field of international harmonisation of training and qualification schemes for welding personnel. The pace of change is unrelenting in terms of the scope of qualifications available and the number of countries becoming involved in them.

In parallel the UK national system for awarding vocational qualifications has also undergone significant changes, and it is not always easy to reconcile the domestic and international developments.

This article seeks to summarise the current position and to indicate areas of future development.

Competence in welding

In a previous article [1] , the role of EN 719 [2] and EN 729 [3] was described, including the scope of welding and welding related tasks which are required, by EN 719, to be under competent control, see Table 1.

Table 1: Welding Co-ordination Tasks (EN 719)

Contract and design review
Materials
Welding consumables
Welding operations
Working environment
Health and safety
Welding and related equipment
Welding and fabrication procedures
Heat treatment
Inspection and testing
NDT
Weld repairs
Acceptance
Documentation

Neither EN 719 nor EN 729 require any second or third party certification of welding personnel, but the qualifications of the European Welding Federation (EWF) are mentioned in an informative Annex to EN 719.

From the enquiries received at TWI, it is clear that many client organisations now require their contractors to comply with these standards.

European/International qualifications in welding

In the late 80s, the European Welding Federation (EWF)4 realised that a set of 'harmonised' qualifications in the welding field would be a valuable asset in support of the European single market. Welding personnel were becoming more mobile, but there was no mechanism for recognising national welding qualifications outside the country in which they were awarded. Therefore EWF started work on the development of 'Guidelines' for the education, examination and qualification of welding personnel.

About five years ago, after EWF had successfully produced and implemented a number of these Guidelines, EWF and the International Institute of Welding (IIW)5 merged their separate qualifications schemes into one under a new body called the International Authorisation Board (IAB). By the end of 2004, the number of such guidelines had risen to 18, see Table 2. Some of these are joint EWF/IIW guidelines and some are EWF only.

Table 2: EWF/IIW Guidelines

Doc. IAB-002-2000/EWF-409 1 st Rev International/European Welding Engineer
Doc. IAB-003-2000/EWF-410 1 st Rev International/European Welding Technologist
Doc. IAB-004-2000/EWF-411 1 st Rev International/European Welding Specialist
Doc. IAB-005-2001/EWF-451 International/European Welding Practitioner
Doc. IAB-041-2001/EWF-450 International Welding Inspection Personnel
Doc. IAB-089-02/EWF-452-467-480-481 International Welder
Doc. EWF-525-01 European Welding Specialist for Resistance Welding
Doc. EWF-570-01 European MMA Diver Welder
Doc. EWF-591-01 European Thermal Spraying Practitioner
Doc. EWF-459-01 European Thermal Spraying Specialist
Doc. EWF-507-01 European Thermal Sprayer
Doc. EWF-517-01 European Adhesive Engineer
Doc. EWF-516-01 European Adhesive Specialist
Doc. EWF-515-01 European Adhesive Bonder
Doc. EWF-530-01 Special Course for Robot Welding
Doc. EWF-544-01 Special Course for Welding Reinforcing Bars
Doc. EWF-623-01 Special Course on Weld Imperfections for Non-Destructive Testing Personnel
Doc. EWF-494-01 Special Course in Laser Welding (Engineer, Technologist and Specialist level)

Each guideline requires the participant to follow a three-step process :

  1. Satisfy the course access requirement (for example, in the case of International/European Welding Engineer, this is an engineering degree)
  2. Complete the training course (for example, in the case of International/European Welding Engineer, the course is of 444 hours duration and covers welding processes, materials, design and fabrication, see Table 3). For some courses, distance learning options are available.
  3. Successfully complete the examination (for example, in the case of International/ European Welding Engineer, this is an eight hour written examination and a one hour oral examination covering the whole syllabus)

Table 3: International/European Welding Engineer course content

Welding/joining processes and equipment
arc and non-arc
power sources
surfacing
mechanisation and automation
practical
Materials and their behaviour
steels (all kinds)
other metallic materials
weldability and cracking
corrosion
wear
metallography
Design and construction
strength of materials
static and dynamic behaviour
weld design
fracture mechanics
Fabrication and applications
QA/QC
Distortion
health and safety
NDT
Economics
Repair
fitness for purpose

An 'Alternative Route' recognises prior learning regardless of the way in which the learning was accomplished, and this can fully or partially replace step (ii) above. This route benefits experienced people who may have learned' on-the-job'. It enables them to have their knowledge assessed and thereby be exempt from the teaching modules as appropriate.

The IAB qualification scheme is administered at the national level by Authorised National Bodies (ANBs), one per country. ANBs in turn appoint Approved Training Bodies (ATBs) to conduct the courses. ANBs are audited by IAB to ensurethat they satisfy stringent rules for implementing the qualification system. This gives industry confidence that the standards of training and qualification are uniform regardless of the country in which it takes place.

To date a total of over 100,000 EWF/IIW diplomas have been awarded. The participating countries are shown in Table 4.

Table 4: International Authorisation Board (IAB) - Authorised National Bodies

Australia (Welding Technology Institute of Australia)
Austria (Schweißtechnische Zentralanstalt)
Belgium (Association Belge du Soudage)
Canada (Canadian Welding Bureau)
China (Chinese Welding Society)
Croatia (Croatian Welding Society)
Czech Republic (Czech Welding Society)
Denmark (FORCE Dantest Cert)
Finland (Welding Society of Finland)
France (Association Francaise du Soudage)
Germany (DVS Pers Zert)
Hungary (Magyar Hegesztestechnikai Egyesules)
Italy (Istituto Italiano della Saldatura)
Japan (Japan Welding Engineering Society)
Netherlands (Nederlands Instituut voor Lastechniek)
Norway (Norwegian Welding Society)
Poland (Instytut Spawalnictwa)
Portugal (Instituto de Soldadura e Qualidade)
Romania (ASR - CertPers)
Russia (Russian Welding Society)
Slovakia (Výskumný ústav Zváracský Welding Research Institute)
Slovenia (Zveza Drustev Za Varilno Tehniko Slovenije)
South Africa (Southern African Institute of Welding)
Spain (Asociación Española de Soldadura y Tecnologias de Unión (CESOL)
Sweden (Swedish Welding Commission)
Switzerland (Schweizerischer Verein fur Schweisstecknik)
Thailand (Welding Institute of Thailand)
Ukraine (E O Paton Welding Institute)
United Kingdom (TWI Certification Ltd)

The EWF/IIW qualifications have the advantage that they show that the person has demonstrated reasonable understanding of a specified body of knowledge. The fact that they are referred to in an informative annex of EN 719 is also clearly a major advantage in demonstrating compliance.

The disadvantages are that there is no experience or job competence requirement. They are valid for life and there is no requirement to maintain knowledge and keep up-to-date.

It is believed that welding is the only field in which international agreement has been reached on a single training and qualification system. The qualifications are a powerful asset to individuals and employers as international collaboration and global trading become more commonplace.

European certification scheme

This scheme tackles the disadvantages of the qualification scheme, mentioned above. Certificates are awarded only to IIW/EWF Diploma holders who have demonstrated competence in a welding job at the appropriate level. Certificationis available only for the first four qualifications shown in Table 2. Certificates are valid for three years and are only renewed if the holder can demonstrate continuing competence and continuing professional development.

The scheme provides convincing demonstration of compliance with EN 719. The certificates issued even have the mechanism for employers to endorse them in the context of EN 719 and they indicate the products, materials and processes in which the holder has demonstrated competence.

UK National Qualifications

Welding technology education is widely available from Further Education (FE) colleges throughout the UK. The awarding bodies involved are:

City and Guilds (C&Gmp;G)  
Awarding Body Consortium (ABC) (some levels are endorsed by TWI)
EMTA Awards Ltd (EAL) (some levels are endorsed by TWI)
Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)  

These qualifications are now sometimes referred to as Technical Certificates or Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQ's).

Furthermore a Masters Degree in Welding is offered by Cranfield University.

Whilst these programmes provide sound education in the theory and practical of welding at a variety of levels. There is no direct link to any of the EWF/IIW qualifications described above. Therefore using these to demonstrate compliance with EN719 may be difficult. However, the availability of the Alternative Route to the EWF/IIW qualifications enable experienced people with these qualifications to have their prior learning assessed. It is likely that thiswould lead to some exemptions from the EWF/IIW course.

Qualifications based on workplace competencies in welding, (National or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (N/SVQs)) are also available. The ones in which TWI have been involved are as follows:

  Occupational
Standards Body
Awarding
Body
Welding Craft Level 2 SEMTA [6] EAL
Welding Craft Level 3 SEMTA EAL
Welding Technician Level 3 SEMTA Awaited
Welding Engineering Level 4 ECITB [7] Awaited

In addition to the above, there is a basic, Vocationally Related Qualification at Level 1*, in arc welding. EAL is the awarding body for this but successful candidates also receive a 'Licence to Practice' from TWI.

* based on the National Welder Training Standard, CP1 [8] .

Again, there is no direct link to the EWF/IIW qualification although the underpinning knowledge requirements for the Welding Technician Level 3 and the Welding Engineer Level 4 are based on the relevant EWF/IIW syllabus.

At present, industry buy-in with regard to these qualifications is patchy. One of the reasons for this is the existence of national and international qualifications other than EWF/IIW which have become industry norms, forexample:

EN 287 or ASME IX for welders
CSWIP for a range of welding related competencies, see www.cswip.com

Certification Scheme for Welding and Inspection Personnel (CSWIP)

This remains in place as the accredited and internationally recognised certification scheme for a range of welding and welding related personnel (see Table 5). CSWIP provides an independent verification of knowledge and competence for specified tasks and is therefore valuable in demonstrating compliance with EN 719.

Table 5 CSWIP Categories

The CSWIP (Certification Scheme for Welding and Inspection Personnel) portfolio.

Welding inspectors
Plant inspectors
Underwater inspectors
General inspection of offshore facilities
Non-destructive testing personnel covering:
  • Ultrasonic inspection
  • Magnetic particle inspection
  • Penetrant inspection
  • Radiographic interpretation
  • Radiographic inspection
  • Visual and optical inspection
  • ACFM inspection
  • Eddy current inspection
Plastics welders
Welding supervisors
Welding instructors
GRP pipes - jointers and fitters
Welders
Integrity Management of bolted joints
Cathodic protection personnel

CSWIP Welding Inspectors and Senior Welding Inspectors are automatically entitled to the equivalent IIW Diplomas. Registered Senior Welding Inspectors are automatically entitled to Professional Membership of The Welding Institute inthe Technician category and Engineering Technician Registration with the Engineering Council (UK).

Engineering Council (UK)

As the recognised UK body for the Engineering profession the Engineering Council offers three levels of registration for engineers and technicians: Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer and Engineering Technician. These are not specific to any particular field of engineering; they provide a generic mark of achievement in engineering education and competence which is recognised widely throughout the world and is valuable to employers and employees. Similar European registration ('Eur Ing') can be obtained by some Chartered Engineers through FEANI (Fédération Européenne d'Associations Nationales d'Ingénieurs). A new 'International Register of Professional Engineers' is also available to Chartered Engineers with several years experience at senior management level.

Institution Membership

Engineering Council (UK) registration is achieved through professional membership of one of the institutions which are Licenced Members of the Engineering Council (UK) (e.g. The Welding Institute). This membership also provides an indication of the engineering field in which the member has demonstrated training and job responsibility at the appropriate level. For example, a Senior Member of the Welding Institute (SenMWeldI) must meet the requirements for Chartered Engineer registration and show a high level of familiarity with, and involvement in, welding/joining technology. The classes of membership are shown in Table 6. More details can be found in Reference [9] .

Table 6 Classes of Professional Membership

Class EC (UK) Registration
  • Fellow
  • Senior Member
  • Member
  • Incorporate Member
  • Technician
  • Graduate
  • Senior Associate
  • CEng
  • CEng
  • CEng/IEng optional
  • IEng/EngTech optional
  • EngTech optional
  • Interim CEng/IEng optional
  • N/A

Membership (and therefore the qualification) remains valid for the life of the member providing the annual membership fee is paid.

There are differences between qualifications that are derived from membership of a Professional Institution and the certification schemes described above. In the former case, the knowledge and competence requirements are more flexible and depend on the specific work experience of the individual. With certification, candidates have to satisfy specific knowledge and competence criteria. Furthermore, the requirement for continuing professional development is more explicit in the certification schemes.

Concluding remarks

The policy of TWI has always been to integrate the national and international schemes as much as possible. The aim is to identify a set programme of education and/or training and/or work experience which, if successfully completed, brings both national and international qualification at the appropriate level.

Table 7 attempts to show this integration. Routes 1 and 2 are now fully defined and in place. In Route 2, International/European Welding Engineer and International European Welding Technologist are both shown because the choice will be dependent on the specific education.

Table 7 Welding qualifications

Route Education or initial qualification Pre-qualification (optional) Training Professional development Examination Professional review Qualification Certification
1 Approved 4 year Engineering Degree GradWeldI Post graduate (unspecified) Required Required F, SenM, MWeldI, CEng, EurIng -
I/EWE I/EWE Standard Route I/EWE Cert EWE
Post graduate (unspecified) 4 years experience I/EWE
Alt Route
Required I/EWE Cert EWE
2 Approved 3 year Engineering Degree
(or equivalent, e.g. HNC, C&Gmp;G FTC)
GradWeldI Post graduate (unspecified) Required Required MWeldI
IncMWeldI
IEng
-
I/EWE or I/EWT I/EWE or I/EWT Standard Route I/EWE or I/EWT Cert EWE or EWT
Post graduate
(unspecified)
4 years experience I/EWE or I/EWT
Alt Route
Required I/EWE or I/EWT Cert EWE or EWT
3 Not Specified Specified Underpinning Knowledge Required Required NVQ L4 Welding Engineering
IncMWeldI
-
4 Technician Level e.g.
NC
C&Gmp;G Pt 3
ABC L4?
EAL?
CSWIP SenW Insp
3.3U or 3.4U
GradWeldI Post graduate (unspecified) Required - - TechWeldI
EngTech
-
I/EWS   I/EWS Standard Route - I/EWS Cert EWS
Post graduate (unspecified) 4 years experience I/EWS
Alt Route
- I/EWS Cert EWS
5 OR career appraisal - - - Required TechWeldI,
EngTech
-
6 Not specified Specified underpinning knowledge Required Required NVQ Level 3
Technician
TechWeldI
 
7 Not specified - - Required - Required SenAWeldI -
8 Not specified - CSWIP approved course
(wide range)
Experience Required CSWIP - IIW Welding Inspector (where applicable) CSWIP
See Table 5
9 Craft Welding
Technical Certificates
1) VRQs, MAs, etc.
    C&Gmp;G
    ABC
    EAL
2) Not specified
- Top up based on NWTS/International Welder - Required - scope depends on qualification/certification sought Required for N/SVQ N/SVQ Level 2 or 3 International Welder NWTS Welder Approvals (e.g. EN287)

Route 3 shows where the new NVQ Level 4 in Welding Engineering would fit if taken alone but this qualification could also be achieved as part of Route 1 or Route 2.

At the Technician level, Routes 4 to 6 the precise route will depend on the initial education or qualification. However there is now more flexibility in terms of TechWeldI and EngTech registration. As with Route 3, Route 7 shows where the new NVQ Level 3 Welding Technician would fit if taken alone. This qualification could also be achieved as part of Route 4 or 5.

Route 7, leading to Senior Associate of The Welding Institute requires significant welding related career progression for those without formal academic qualifications.

Route 8 represents the range of CSWIP schemes identified in Table 5 and the link to the IIW Welding Inspector qualification, where applicable is shown.

Route 9 is the most complicated and frequently changes. Individuals seeking to follow one of the results should seek advice before proceeding.

Compliance with EN 719 (ISO 14731) and EN 729 (ISO 3834) is becoming an increasingly important requirement. Competence of personnel with welding responsibilities is a major issue in these standards. The European and International qualification schemes described in this article provide objective evidence of an individual's technical knowledge which is widely recognised throughout the world and, in the case of EWF qualifications, is directly linked to EN 719. The qualifications are therefore a powerful asset to professionals in welding, and their employers.

The EWF certification scheme for job competence provides an even more convincing way of demonstrating compliance with EN 719.

There are continual improvement activities in all the schemes which are designed to ensure that industry can continue to have confidence in them in the long term.

References

  1. Jessop, T J. Gaining Competence. Welding and Metal Fabrication, January 2000, 7.
  2. EN 719: 1994 Welding Co-ordination - Tasks and Responsibilities. Also published as ISO 14731.
  3. EN 729: 1995 Quality Requirements for Welding (in four parts). Also published as ISO 3834.
  4. EWF website address: www.ewf.be
  5. IIW website address: www.iiw-iis.org
  6. SEMTA website address: www.semta.org.uk
  7. ECITB website address: www.ecitb.org.uk
  8. National Welder Training Standard: www.cswip.com
  9. www.twi.co.uk/professional