How to Get a 6G Certification in Welding

Welding certification can be a confusing topic, with many different certificates for the various types of welds, materials, thicknesses and positions. Welders can find themselves working from many positions on movable or fixed objects. Each specific situation holds its own challenges for completing a stable weld. The various certifications you can attain attempt to mimic real-world conditions and ensure the competency of certified welders to perform in a variety of situations. This article focuses on 6G welding certification.

With so many choices, it may be challenging to decide which certifications will be most helpful to your future and career. Generally, you should test on the welds you will use most and that are required by your employer.

So, which position is the hardest for welders? 6G is the most involved weld, forcing the welder into all the welding positions to complete the task. As such, 6G welding certification is a solid choice because it certifies the welder for all positions. 

What exactly is 6G certification? The 6G welding position is a combination of both structural and pipe welding positions, with full transitions between them. To complete the weld, you will need to use both hands and weld both a hard and easy side. If this sounds difficult, it’s because it is. It is a complicated weld that will require focus and practice as well as a great deal of skill by the welder taking the test. Keep reading if you feel you are ready to take the test and are looking for some information on the testing process.

An Overview of Pipe Welding Position Classification

Pipe welding positions are classified by a coding system consisting of numbers and letters. There are four position types identified by numbers and two weld types identified by letters. These are as follows:

  • One (1) designates a horizontal pipe that is not fixed and can be rolled while welding. The welder remains stationary and welds from the top of the pipe. 
  • Two (2) is for a pipe in the vertical position that is fixed, meaning the welder must move around the pipe, making a horizontal weld.
  • Five (5) means the pipe is fixed in a horizontal position. The welder will need to move around the pipe, welding from above, below and both sides.
  • Six (6) stands for a pipe that is at a 45-degree angle and is fixed. The welder will need to weld from all positions using both hands. 
  • R is for a restricted position. A restricted position in testing is designed to mimic the obstacles a welder might encounter in the field.
  • F means a fillet weld. Fillet welds are used to join pipes that are perpendicular to each other.
  • G refers to a groove weld. Groove welds are welds produced in a channel between two pipes, which are filled with weld metal to create a bond. 

So, what is the difference between 5G and 6G welding? 5G welding involves a pipe in a horizontal position, while 6G welding consists of a pipe at a 45-degree angle. Most importantly, for those looking to optimize their credentials, 6G certification qualifies the certified welder for all the welding positions. 

Where to Obtain 6G Certification

Complicating the confusion around welding certification, no single organization provides universal accreditation for all certified welders. In fact, welders can test for certification within the organization they work for, at a local trade school or through a large trade organization like the American Welding Society (AWS). Testing is as individual as your career path, and which certification you choose may depend on where you work or want to become employed.

Becoming certified through your employer is a great way to increase your earning potential and position in your organization. Additionally, workplace certifications are often a requirement of continued employment and will be specific to the type of welding you are likely to encounter on the job site. Since shoddy welding can hold serious repercussions, many companies prefer a testing process to ensure the competency of their welders. The advantage of becoming a certified welder within an organization is that testing is usually done on the company dime, during work hours while you are being paid. The major disadvantage is that your certification is only valid while you are working for that organization. 

Welding certifications can sometimes be obtained from local trade schools. This may be done informally by completing a course and receiving a certificate, or formally by testing for certification through a trade organization. As a widely recognized organization for welding certification, the AWS provides many testing options for welders. Welding certifications through the AWS are classified by welding position, process, filler metal, base materials and thickness/backing. 

Because there are so many ways to distinguish a weld, the AWS has multiple certifications for each weld position. For 6G welding certification alone, the AWS has six different classifications. The six certifications are GTAW Pipe (Carbon Steel), GTAW Pipe (Carbon Steel to Stainless Steel), GTAW Pipe (Stainless Steel), GTAW/SMAW Pipe (Carbon Steel) and GTAW/SMAW Pipe (Chrome PWHT). Variables on these tests include the following:

  • The welding process used by the welder may vary. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) is a possibility for all 6G certification tests, while Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is allowed for the GTAW/SMAW Pipe (Carbon Steel) and GTAW/SMAW Pipe (Chrome PWHT) tests. 
  • Different filler metals may be used in the weld, and there are different base metals from which pipes are constructed.   
  • The thickness of the weld, pipe outer diameter or backing changes the type of certification earned. 

Upon completing a welding test, the weld will have to be graded as a pass or fail. The weld’s strength will be tested through a visual examination, liquid dye test, bend test or radiographic test. Visual testing relies on a highly trained inspector and is the most subjective of the grading methods. The liquid dye test uses liquid dye to highlight any surface irregularities. In a bend test, the pipe is cut into strips, called coupons, and placed into a bend test machine. The downside to the bend test is that it destroys the welded pipe. Radiographic testing uses an x-ray to find any defect in the weld. Although the radiographic examination is the most accurate, non-destructive method, the risks and costs associated with using it are impossible for many testing centers. 

To maintain AWS certification as a certified welder, you must submit certification maintenance forms every six months. The form requires validation that you have been active in performing the welds within the past six months of certification, meaning if you are not actively working as a welder, your certificate will automatically expire.

AWS has a number of testing facilities located throughout the country. For a full listing, click here. AWS certified welder testing for any of the positions costs $50, with an additional $50 for each retest. 

How to Pass the SMAW 6G Welding Test

If SMAW is your specialty, you will want to concentrate on either the AWS GTAW/SMAW Pipe (Carbon Steel) or AWS GTAW/SMAW Pipe (Chrome PWHT) certifications. Regardless of the process you use, performing a 6G weld is not an easy task, and it would be advisable to have some practice before you attempt to perform the weld on an examination. You may find help through one of the organizations that provide testing for 6G certification, as they will sometimes also provide training on the SMAW 6G weld technique. Other training options include your local trade school or possibly another certified welder with whom you are acquainted.