By Dan Davis
The welder had a simple question on this par- ticular Internet message board: “What are the responsibilities of the welding supervisor?”
The gist of the conversation was that this particular welding supervisor had a certification, but
no real welding experience. The welder asking the
question was wondering how the supervisor could
be responsible for the company’s welding operations yet have no real knowledge—at least in the
welder’s eyes—of the cra;.
Well, at the very least, many of those responding
to the post suggested that the welding supervisor
should have some working knowledge of welding.
That sounds like a no-brainer, but o;en people end
up in positions and with titles that don’t truly reflect
the expertise—or lack of expertise—they have. Such
is life in metal fabricating, where the work can be
fast-paced and di;icult and where talents, such as
welding, are easily transferred from one company
to the next.
So what should someone who is supervising
welding operations know? That really depends on
who you ask and where you work.
The Certified Answer
If you want to get a complete list of the tasks associated with a welding supervisor, you can check
with the American Welding Society (AWS). AWS B5.9
Specification for the Qualification of Welding Supervisors is detailed, but the responsibilities can be
summed up in three general areas:
1. Quality. The welding supervisor has to identify
the right welding procedure for a job and then set up
a process that gets the welders trained to perform
to that welding procedure specification (WPS). When
the work is complete, the welders need to be familiar with processes and technology in place to ensure
good weld quality. (Final signo; likely resides in a
certified welding inspector, should one be on sta;.)
2. Economics. The welding supervisor needs to
ensure that the welders are working e;iciently with
the right tools and fixtures; not overwelding, which
leads to wasted material; and following the WPS,
which should eliminate the need for rework. To stay
on top of costs related to the welding activity, the
supervisor also requires a knowledge of the technology, consumables, and processes used to fabricate parts, so that the company can cost-e;ectively
turn around jobs according to schedule and maintain margins.
3. Safety. The welding supervisor is responsible
for educating the welders on safe welding practices
and needs to spend time on the shop floor, looking
for safety issues and pointing out safe working examples, both of which can lead to teachable moments.
That’s a lot of knowledge, but it shouldn’t come as
any surprise. The AWS test for the certified welding
supervisor credential is pretty in-depth. It consists
of two segments: Part I—Fundamentals of Supervision, which is a general knowledge section, and Part
II—Welding Practices & Economics. Four hours are
allotted to finish both sections.
“You have to know your stu;. You don’t want to go
into that test second-guessing because of the time,”
said Chip Prinz, director of corporate services, Ho-
bart Institute of Welding Technology. “You’ve got to
answer the questions and move on.”
Prinz said that many of the students who enroll
hoping to participate in the schooling that will lead
to the CWS exam run the gamut from sales and
management types who may be prepping for more
interaction with shop floor welders to experienced
welders looking to boost their credentials to climb
the career ladder. Those that have welding experi-
ence will have the least amount of problems taking
the CWS exam, he added.
“Being an experienced welder makes the general
The Real World of Weld Supervision
knowledge part of the CWS exam not so much easi-
er, but maybe less eye-opening,” he said, “because
there is a lot of information on the test.”
So the test that gives you the right to say that you
are a certified welding supervisor requires a breadth
of welding knowledge. The real world seems to sug-
gest the same, but not every company is on the
If you try to call Bill Janzen of General Metal Fabrication, Winkler, Man., Canada, you might struggle to
talk directly to him. As the company’s welding supervisor, he’s typically walking the shop floor, ensuring
production is going according to schedules and all
of the jobs are meeting quality expectations. His job
responsibilities include ensuring weld quality, meeting productivity goals, and keeping jobs on schedule.
What should a weld shop
The answer likely lies in just what the job requires
A welding supervisor probably should have a working knowledge of welding, but he shouldn’t be spending all his
or her time underneath a welding hood. The supervisor likely has too many responsibilities to address.
“[Working for a dairy equipment
installer] taught me a lot. We did
everything under the sun there.
You got a feel for everything.”
—Bill Janzen, General Metal Fabrication