What are Welding Qualification Tests?

In Canada there are requirements for welders to be qualified to a welding standard by performing a welders qualification test to prove that the welder can deposit sound metal. If a welder passes a test, they will receive a qualification letter, report, or ticket of verification.

In Canada, companies engaged in welding structural steel or structural aluminum are required to be certified to a standard as required by national and provincial building codes. The standards are written by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). CSA W47.1 is the Certification of Companies for Fusion Welding of Steel and CSA W47.2 is the Certification of Companies for Fusion Welding of Aluminum. In these Standards there are provisions for the qualification of welders.

Let’s look at a the “S” classification qualification test for the Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) process for steel in the flat class. The test assembly from CSA W47.1 is shown in Figure 1, illustrating the dimensions for the test assembly to be used for the SMAW process. The “S” classification refers to a welder’s ability to weld sections for the full thickness of material, when welding from both sides with back gouging, or when welding from one side with backing. 

Diagram of test assembly


Figure 1, Standard Test Assembly for SMAW, GMAW and GTAW from CSA W47.1 Standard

Looking at Figure 1 above there is information given on the test assembly such as the size of the test samples to be extracted for the bend tests or for radiography tests, there are stop and starts required in the root of the fillet side and in the root of the groove side. This means the welder will be required to stop at these locations, have the inspector review the stops before continuing to fill the test plate joint. In Canada all welder testing under CSA Standards is witnessed by the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) representative. Once the test plate is completed in the flat position the CWB representative will inspect the cap passes to make sure they meet the test requirements that are set out in the Standard. Figure 2 illustrates the fillet side and groove side of the standard test assembly for welder testing for SMAW.

Diagram of Groove and Fillet

Figure 2, Image of Groove Side on Left and Fillet Side on right

The test assembly will be prepared for the guided bend tests by machining the backing bar off the test assembly and then, by cutting out three samples to be bent. Under CSA W47.1 guidelines two (2) root bend specimens and one (1) face bend specimen are required. Figure 3 shows the result of the guided bend test by bending the specimens to expose the root (x2) and the face of the test specimens.


A picture of bend specimens

Figure 3, Example of Bend Specimens that have Passed and where no Unacceptable Flaws are shown on the Examined Surfaces

Once the test specimens are bent, the CWB representative will evaluate the surface of the bends for discontinuities using the guidelines in the Standard. If there are no unacceptable discontinuities the welder has passed the qualification test and will receive a welder qualification card from the CWB as per the example shown in Figure 4. The welder will now be qualified to weld both fillets and groove welds in the position of testing. The welder’s qualification, under CSA Standards, remains in effect for a two-year period, after which welders have to complete a check test to renew their qualifications.

Diagram of Elements of a Welder Qualification Record

Figure 4, Welder Qualification Record from CWB

Another welder qualification test used in Canada is that used for welders working in the high-pressure industries. The standard used is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Section IX for Welding, Brazing and Fusing Procedures. The welder qualification testing for this code is administrated by each individual province, for example in Ontario it is the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), in Alberta it’s the Alberta Boiler and Safety Association (ABSA)

The difference between the ASME and CSA tests is that the welder can weld a test assembly with just a groove to qualify for both groove and fillets. A welder can also choose to weld a groove in a pipe test assembly which will qualify the welder for welding groove and fillet welds on either pipe or plate. The evaluations of the welded test assembly are the same in both Standards, either guided bend tests or radiography can be chosen. The only difference is that in ASME Section IX, the evaluations for welder qualifications require only one (1) root and one (1) face bend test.

Under the ASME Code the welders qualifications can be in effect indefinitely as long as the welder has welded in the previous 6 months with the process and positions they have been qualified in.

For more information on welder qualification tests, you can download the free CSA W47.1 S Classification tests brochure on the CWB webpage. If you are a CWB or CWB Association member you can find the brochure at the following link https://www.cwbgroup.org/association/publications

If not please visit the following link to register for a free membership to the association and you will be able to download this brochure and many other publications, go to https://www.cwbgroup.org/association/become-a-member


Bill Eccles

VP PPC and Associates






The information provided is intended for general interest, to educate and inform our audience. The CWB and those providing feedback to the questions do not take any responsibility for any omissions or misstatements that could lead to incorrect applications or possible solutions that industry may be facing.

How-It Works content is submitted by Industry experts to the CWB Association and does not necessarily reflect the views of the CWB Group. When testing for CWB Certification or CWB Education, please refer to CWB Education textbooks or CSA standards as the official source of information.