How Much Does a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) Make?

Certification has a direct correlation with higher incomeWhat is a CWI?

Certified welding inspectors work in various industries related to construction. Furthermore, certified welding inspectors’ daily duties are filled with numerous responsibilities that are essential in maintaining the safety standards of in the construction industry. On the job site, certified welding inspectors ensure that all related construction activities follow specific guidelines, in accordance with city, state, and federal safety regulations. They also inspect plans, verify inspection and welding calibrations, and make sure that all welding materials are in proper condition for future projects. Additionally, welding inspectors inspect all welding equipment, such as regulators, cables, and welding machines.

During the construction phase, welding inspectors are responsible for monitoring heating values, ensuring the proper temperature controls are being used, and verifying that individuals maintain all compliance issues.

A CWI can also be used as a third party testing resource off site. The CWI can perform NDT, UT, VT and other mechanical tests to certified other welders for procedures that will be used during the project. Welders must be certified for whatever welds will be required on the job based on design protocols. A CWI can also help write procedures for the specific project.

In order to become a certified welding inspector, a high school diploma is required, but a relevant technical schooling or a bachelor’s degree in engineering, architecture, or a similar field is preferred. Furthermore, there is a certification exam that requires at least three years of completed work experience. The exam is constructed to test individuals on practical applications, welding code applications, and welding fundamentals. Certification usually lasts for three years, but it possible to take additional exams to prolong certification for up to nine years.


In 2012, construction and building inspectors earned an average of $55,230 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though this figure gives you a general idea of what a welding inspector can expect to make, it reflects the salaries of all inspectors, including electrical, plumbing and public works, so the number is somewhat skewed. According to, the average national wage for a CWI (level I, II or II) is $26/hr or $61,000 per year. Of course location matters. A CWI in Montana ($55,000/yr**) is going to be paid less than a CWI in the Gulf ($66,000/yr**) or New York ($80,000/year**) based on the amount of work available, competition and cost of living.


The most recent survey offered by the American Welding Society found that salaries are much greater for welding inspectors, especially those that are certified. Welding inspectors earned an average of $67,222 a year, including overtime*. The average hourly rate was $26.73*, with inspectors racking up almost 17 hours of overtime a week. Chron offers a similar wage, estimating that half of all certified welding inspectors earned $58,444 a year as of 2013. Welders, on the other hand, earned an average of $38,410 a year, or $18.46 an hour, in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


As with any job, location affects salaries, and inspectors are no exception. Inspectors working in Washington DC have the highest salary, with an average of $83,000** a year. Those working in New York were a close second, earning an average of $80,000** a year, while inspectors in Colorado made almost $59,000** a year. The same, however, can’t be said for inspectors in Idaho, where the average salary was just $44,000** a year -- one of the the lowest in the nation.

The Future

Through 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the welding industry as a whole to experience 4 percent growth. This is slightly slower than the expected national average for all U.S. occupations -- an estimated 14 percent. The 4 percent growth rate equates to the creation of about 14,400 new jobs. Income potential and opportunities should continue to be available to skilled labor. Those who hold a certification should see the best prospects.

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