Oct 30, 2013

American Welding Society Accredits FVCC Welding Facility

Flathead Valley Community College has become home to Montana’s second American Welding Society (AWS) Accredited Test Facility (ATF).  This means new opportunities for welders in Northwest Montana to achieve national certification and potential higher wages and for local employers to have access to nationally-certified welders.

The AWS Accredited Test Facility program establishes requirements for test facilities, their personnel and their equipment to qualify for accreditation to test and certify welders.  ATFs play an integral part in the operation of the AWS Certified Welding program by providing the necessary resources to test welders for this nationally recognized and accepted program.

After meeting the requirements of the AWS QC4, Standard for Accreditation of Test Facilities for AWS Certified Welder Program, FVCC joined Great Falls College Montana State University as Montana’s only two accredited AWS Accredited Test Facilities. FVCC also became the 93rd accredited facility of this kind in the nation.  Welding students at FVCC who successfully complete the certification course and national certification test will be listed in the AWS National Registry of Welders.

FVCC Director of Career and Technical Education Pete Wade explained that prior to the accreditation, FVCC had been able to qualify welders, which is viewed as a local endorsement.  As an ATF, FVCC is now able to award welding students AWS national certification.  Though some welding positions don’t require it, many employers prefer AWS certified welders and may pay higher wages to obtain them.

“We are excited to offer our students the ability to graduate from an accredited test facility and to provide them opportunities to improve their employability.” said Wade.  “In this competitive job market, the welders with AWS certification are going to get the jobs over similarly skilled welders without it.”

According to the American Welding Society, trusting welder certification to ATF specialists makes good business sense for contractors and fabricators. Companies have realized the shortcomings of self-qualification and have discovered the advantages of utilizing AWS Accredited Test Facilities to test and certify welders. ATFs help companies save money, improve productivity and reduce liability by entrusting their welder certification to the experts.

“Not only will our students benefit from additional opportunities, our facility is also a great resource for local employers to train and test qualified welders,” added Wade.

For more information, contact Wade at (406) 756-3968 or at