& Daniel asked the following
would like to know what kind of welding methods you need to be coded in, to start a welding career on off-shore platforms,
as it would qualify as industrial welding I guess?
What path of studying would you recommend for a prospective
welder with above mentioned aspirations?
would be very grateful for any info you can provide me with.
My best answer:
& I started typing as usual.....
Welding for the offshore Gas and Oil industries is top spec stuff.
In the main, it applies directly to Stick Welding, as this is the main mode of welding employed.
Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) which is MIG, is also used, but not to the same extent as stick.
MIG welding is the favorite of on-shore fabricator’s for nearly all industry, due to its speed and cost efficiency.
The important factor, whether stick welded or mig welded, is the simple fact that all welds produced must be of the
highest standard, therefore all finished welded products are rigorously tested using xray, ultrasonic, magnetic particle (non-destructive
testing (NDT) ) & various destructive testing where required.
The integrity of the actual weld deposit
& welder training and certification is therefore strictly controlled to ensure defect free joining of metals.
There are several types of ‘welder coding’, and each applies to the specific mode of weld metal deposition
(weld process) such as gas shielded mig welding with solid filler wire, or gas shielded with flux cored filler wire, TIG welding
or stick welding.
The most popular commonly known coding is ASME IX, (pronounced asmey nine) (American Society
of Mechanical Engineers) ,and is most suitable for high quality pressure vessels, pipe work, and storage tanks etc.
This is the ‘all bells & whistles’ coding that denotes the welding of steelwork in any position, and of
all thickness of steel.
My own welder approval is BS EN 287-1 (British Standard European Standard), and this is the equivalent
to ASME IX (USA standard).
Just to really confuse you, Welding Procedure Approval and Welder Approval, are two different things.
An ‘application standard’ or ‘code of practice’ will include criteria or guidelines
on material, joint design, welding process, welding procedure, welder qualification and inspection & may have other standards,
ie welding procedure and welder approval tests.
The fabricator/manufacturer will normally be required to approve the welding procedure
and welder qualification.
The difference between a Welding Procedure Approval and a Welder Qualification Test is this:
- The Welding Procedure Approval Test is carried out by a competent welder and the quality of
the weld is tested & assessed using non-destructive and mechanical testing techniques. The intention is to demonstrate
& prove that the proposed welding procedure will produce a welded joint which will satisfy the specific requirements of
weld quality and mechanical property.
- The Welder Approval Test examines a welder's skill and ability in
producing a satisfactory & suitable Test Weld. The test can be performed with or without a qualified welding procedure,
but, without an approved welding procedure, the welding parameters must be recorded.
The requirements & criteria
for approvals are determined by the relevant application standard.
As I mentioned above, BS EN 287, BS EN 9606
and ASME IX would be appropriate for welders on high quality work such as pressure vessels, pressure vessel piping and off-shore
structures and other critical products where the consequences of failure, stress levels and complexity mean that a high quality
welded joint is essential.
In less demanding situations, for example; small to medium steel building frames and general
light structural and non- structural work, an approved welding procedure may not be required.
However, to ensure an acceptable level of
skill, the welder should be approved to a less stringent standard e.g. BS 4872.
I hope this gives you a small insight into the complexities of being a
In practice, it goes something like this: you find a job with a steel fabricator or in a workshop that carries out welding;
you spend a bit of time studying weld paramaters, ( machine settings) so that you can become an expert at producing a first
When you are confident and skilful with your finished work (weld deposit), your employer can send you to a recognised welder training establishment for ‘Coding’
This basically entails yourself doing a sample test piece under the supervision of a welding
instructor, and he will decide if you are skilful enough to take the full Welder Approval Test.
The Welding instructor will
call this your ‘assessment day’.
If you don’t quite make the grade, your welder
instructor will recommend that you take some extra ‘Welder Training’ and you will probably spend a day doing practice
welding on pipe joints, as used for the real welder approval test.
If you manage to impress your welding instructor
with your practical welding skills, then you will probably start your Welder Approval Test within minutes.
tests have always been directly supervised by a Lloyds welding inspector, complete with shirt and tie, who hovers around watching
you while you weld!
As soon as your ‘test piece’ is complete and has cooled down, the welding inspector
records the details on his paperwork, and the test piece is taken away for testing and inspection.
If your welding skill has
satisfied the test requirements, you will probably receive a phone call within a day or so, to tell you of your Welder Approval
Test results, and your Welder Approval certificate is posted to you.
My main welder approval certificate was authenticated
and processed at my welder training centre, and unfortunately it came printed on cheap A4 paper!
Both sides are printed and
require renewal stamps and signatures.
The downside of this however, is that after years of renewal
ink stamps, the different coloured inks have leached through the paper and made it look vary tatty, & hence it is sometimes
difficult to present this vitally important document to new customers.
So when you get your first Welder Approval
Certificate, take your own supply of good quality 100g paper for the approval/test centre staff to use!!!!
I’m not sure what happens
if you fail your Welder Approval test, as I haven’t failed so far.
The term 'Coded Welder' is often
used to describe an ‘Approved Welder’ but the term is not mentioned directly in any of the welding standards that
I have detailed so far.
It is however, used throughout the workplace & industry to describe those welders whose practical
skill and technical competence have been ‘Approved’ to the specific requirements of an appropriate standard (Coding).
If you can read between the lines here, you can see that you do not have to be a professor of welding to become
a coded welder.
You simply must have the correct basic training and practical skill to complete a real practical
welding test which comprises of you welding bits of steelwork together, with a welding examiner present.
There is no heavy written
examination, so you do not need to study books for years, and you do not have to know a welding machine inside out.
If your employer expects your practical welding skills to be fully approved, then your employer should provide the
required welder training.
This is not cheap however, and it does cost a fair bit of money if you are going from scratch
to fully approved.
The best way to become a coded welder, is to seek your employment with a company that supplies
high quality welded products and has its own in-house welder training program.
Alternatively, some employers send their
welders to certified welder training establishments, to ensure that they are trained to the highest specification, and thereby
they can supply their welded products having fulfilled quality assurance requirements, as full product traceability and testing
etc is essential in the welding industry.
Many years ago, I failed to get a job with a reputable welding company, because
I did not have any qualifications for mathematics when I finished school, so I messed about for years until I was in a position
to start my own welding company.
I effectively became my own employer, and paid for my own Welder Approval Test out of my own
But by this time, I was already very experienced with MIG, TIG, STICK & GAS welding, and I realized that
I could increase my earnings with the appropriate Welder Approval qualifications.
If you are relatively new to the welding
industry, or you are just thinking about starting in this trade, then I would honestly recommend that you specialize in one
type of welding or the other.
You will find it much easier to get to grips with any aspect of welding if you are able to concentrate
on one process at a time, conquer it, and then move on to the next process of your choice.
For example: if you wish to
pursue STICK welding, then find a job with a mobile or onsite welding company, as this will be the main welding process used.
If you would prefer to be an expert MIG welder, then find any employment with a workshop based general steel fabrication
For TIG welding, find an employer such as catering equipment manufacturers, who mainly use the
stainless steel TIG process and MIG Welding is secondary, or look under welding & fabrication: Process Pipework.
Once you have the basics under your belt, you can always ask your employer about welder training and qualification, if you
are met with a blank stare, immediately look for an alternative employer further up the quality ladder that can help you to
gain your welding goals.
I know this might sound like ‘the long way round’ into a common job, but like all
trades, you have to start somewhere, and if you don’t personally know someone already working in the industry, then
you have very few options to get the right job first time.
I think it’s a case of ‘never
But remember this Daniel, you are a ideally looking for someone to ‘hold your hand’
and actually show you how to do it, or alternatively, watch an expert doing it and copy him!
I am currently looking at the options of
recording ‘Expert Welding Instruction on DVD’, and if I can get enough feed back for training or instruction
requests from my web sites, then I will do this for real, as I think it is much better to learn welding from watching someone
rather than reading it in a book.
I found it impossible to get a top spec welding job without relevant experience, but I could
not get the experience without having a Welder Approval Test certificate first!
So it’s a bit of a catch 22 situation
sometimes I think.
If you want to teach yourself from books, select your favorite Welding Process, be it MIG, TIG
or STICK, and study the Welding Process first; to give you a full understanding of how you can apply it, then study the Weld
Parameters of the process so that you know how to setup your welding machine and start practicing.
If you are doing this at home
and you do not have access to good quality or industrial welding machines, then find some weekend or evening work at your
nearest welding fabricator.
And just as a side note Daniel, avoid old welding books like the plague, although the basic fundamentals
of welding process have not changed very much over the years, the actual welding machines and welding consumables have advanced
quite a bit.
I also took an evening college course, many years ago, just to get a bit of paper that said I
could actually produce satisfactory MIG TIG & STICK welds, as most prospective welding employers wanted some kind of certificate
that stated that I could weld, before they would give me a job.
It took me the best part of two years to complete this,
then when I eventually did get a real welding job, I realized that all the studying and ‘paperwork’ side of the
course, was of very little real use.
In reality, I could have been taught the practical skills, by someone experienced
like myself, within a matter of weeks, and learned the weld parameters from a book.
As always, it is often a case of ‘who
you know’ not ‘what you know’.
I remember being so disappointed with my first welding employer after spending
years trying to get a welding job that I decided that I should start my own welding business, and that’s the truth!
I promote myself as being a ‘Lloyds Approved Coded Welder’,
and the majority of my business comes to my own company through STICK Welding onsite (offshore) or specialist workshop weld repairs and fabrication (onshore but may end up offshore).
It does not however, earn me the most money!
If you would like to know which study materials
that I can honestly recommend, or you have any other questions, please just ask.
my desk is manned every evening
OK other Coded Welders.....
.....How did you get started as a Coded Welder?
Interesting Stories will be
.....& I have another mountain of explanations on this very specialised subject.
It's just a case of getting it all typed up!.....