Changes to the Welding Inspector Programmes

Generally, the future direction being targeted is that; the content of the first level course is being adapted in recognition that many of the students do not have a general engineering background, the courses are being modified to include a greater practical component, the supporting examinations are also being revised to include a more comprehensive assessment of practical skills, the course structures are being  adapted to make use of the full range of IIW inspector qualification levels (Basic, Standard and Comprehensive) and the certification of inspectors will be introduced and will be based on IIW qualifications.

Some of the changes needed to meet the targets will be introduced from the beginning of 2014.   

Training Course Content and Examinations

At the behest of industry, SAIW has been investigating how it can improve the background knowledge of newly qualified inspectors. It has been decided to introduce a module 0 course which addresses basic fundamentals in preparation for the main course content. The module is one week in duration and is taken from the IIW programmes for inspectors and specialists. It has the course content shown in Table 1 below. It should be understood that the content is only covered at a basic and simple level. There was discussion within the SAIW committee structure about whether or not the module should be mandatory for all candidates. It was decided that in certain cases exemption from module 0 may be granted upon application.

The introduction of module 0 means that from January 2014 the level 1 course will be extended to five weeks from the current four weeks.

Table 1: Module 0 Course Content





Basic Metrology  applicable to welding

To ensure a basic knowledge of metrology to control quality of welding


Technical Calculation

To demonstrate how to make calculations related to welding


Technical Drawings

To be able to read and understand basic technical drawings


Basics of Electro-technology

To acquire a basic knowledge of industrial electricity related to welding


Basics of Chemistry

To acquire a basic knowledge of chemistry in relation to the welding process


Basics of Materials

To be informed about the main metallic materials used in welding


Metal Products

To know different product forms and understand their methods of production


Machining of Materials

To be informed about the methods of machining ferrous and non-ferrous alloys


Technical Mechanics

To be able to make simple calculations of forces in welding


Joining Elements

To be informed of non-welding joining methods


Calculation of Strength

To appreciate tensile test diagrams, moments of inertia, section modulus, simple stress calculations






The level 1 and 2 courses are being further modified to incorporate more practical training especially for welding processes, mechanical testing, non-destructive testing and metallurgical examinations. More demonstrations (or DVD viewings in remote centres where this is not possible) have been included in the syllabus. An especially important change to the practical classes will be the introduction of plastic weld replicas which will be used to improve training for visual examination of welds.

Examination formats are changing to reflect the revised course structures and Table 2 below shows the new requirements. The main changes are the re-introduction of radiographic interpretation and the evaluation of plastic replica welds.

Table 2: Examination Formats

Level 1 Welding Inspector

Theory Paper

(Closed Book Paper)

Practical Application (Open Book Paper)

Practical Examination

Duration 2. 5 Hours


Duration 3 hours

Duration 4 hours

The purpose of this examination is to test the student’s knowledge of the fundamentals of welding and inspection.

These fundamentals include:

  • Welding Processes and Consumables
  • Defects
  • Materials Technology
  • Visual Inspection
  • Distortion and Welding Symbols
  • Welder Performance Qualification
  • Inspection and Quality Assurance
  • Health and Safety


Typical questions can range from the following:

  • Range of Welder Qualification according to ASME IX, AWS D1.1 and EN 287-1
  • Duties of an inspector before, during and after welding
  • QC measures for electrodes w.r.t. storage, handling, issue and use
  • Acceptance criteria of the various codes used in welded fabrications 

The practical examination paper will cover the following:

  • Review of Welder Qualification Test Certificates. [ASME1X], [AWS D1,1M],
[EN 287 -1]
  • Review of Material Test certificates.
  • Visual Inspection of plastic samples (pipe, butt and fillet samples) and compilation of Visual Inspection Reports in accordance with BS EN ISO 5817. Category “B”


Level 2 Senior Welding Inspector

Theory Paper

(Closed Book Paper)

Practical Application

(Open Book Paper)

Practical Examination

Duration 2.5 Hours


Duration 3 hours

Duration 4 hours

The purpose of this examination is to test the student’s knowledge of the fundamentals of fabrication and inspection.

These fundamentals include:

  • Materials Technology
  • Construction and Design
  • Destructive Testing
  • Non-Destructive Testing
  • Pre-heat and PWHT requirements
  • Inspection and Quality Assurance
  • Developing of welding procedures
  • Purpose of Quality Control Plans

Practical application for the use of Manufacturing Codes and Standards, e.g.:

Range of Welding Procedure qualification according to:

  • AWS D1.1
  • ISO 15614

Pressure Equipment Regulations, Mines and Works Act and Pressure test Calculations from international codes

Tolerances for Pressure Vessels

Review and evaluation of the following NDT reports:

  • RT
  • MT
  • PT
  • UT

Viewing of 3 (three) radiographs and identifying the various type of discontinuities

Review and evaluation of Welding Procedures, 1 off:

  • AWS D1.1
  • ISO 15614



The respective responsibilities of the various parties in radiographic interpretation have long been the subject of debate – the roles of the welding inspector, the NDT operator and IPEs! The SAIW committee structure has held the view that interpretation is not a responsibility  of the welding inspector, this lays with the RT NDT level 2 personnel and the IPE (who is required to hold Radiographic Interpretation certification)  since both are appropriately certified. Even so there is a general expectation that a welding inspector should recognise obvious defect situations.

In the case of visual examinations of welds the plastic replica examination requirements will go a long way to ensure that inspectors are prepared for their visual inspection responsibilities.

IIW Welding Inspector Qualifications

The existing formats of the level 1 and 2 welding inspector programmes have been in place for several years. The combined courses are aligned to comply with the IIW Standard Level requirements. Anyone successfully completing both levels 1 and 2 and meeting the IIW access requirements is awarded the IIW diploma.

Many inspectors meeting IIW access conditions obtained their SAIW Level 2 qualification before the full alignment with the IIW Standard Level qualification. These inspectors are able to attend the Construction and Design training module and sit the supplementary examination to obtain the IIW Standard Level qualification diploma.

To encourage welding inspection managers and technical experts to improve their qualifications, the IIW Comprehensive Level diploma programme is being introduced from next year and two courses are being included in the schedule for next year. There are two routes of entry to the Comprehensive Level qualification; either by direct access with higher level educational qualifications or via progression from Standard Level with two years of practical experience. The training course requirements vary for the two routes of entry and in the first instance it has been decided to focus on inspectors wanting to progress from Standard Level.  The course will be four weeks in duration and more details will be published early in the New Year in the SAIW’s newsletter, Fusion, and on the SAIW website.

IIW is currently conducting a major review of its inspector programmes and when this is complete it should be possible to make use of the full range of IIW courses including the IIW Basic Level which has been run on an ad hoc basis in the past.

Please note there may yet be inspectors who are entitled to IIW diplomas under transition arrangements (see Fusion edition of August 2012 – available on website).

Certification of Welding Inspectors

Generally, our industry experts have advised that it is important that inspectors with experience are given recognition and the best way to do this is through a welding inspector certification programme. Details of the certification system are currently being addressed by a scheme committee and the planned launch date is July 2014. More information will be published as details are confirmed over the next few months.