The American Petroleum Institute (API) serves as the country's foremost trade association for the oil and natural gas industries and includes more than 400 members. Among advocacy and research initiatives, API also maintains certification programs for producers, drillers, refiners and other petroleum workers. Within these programs, API welding certification tests the skills of pipeline welders and ensures that they follow safety standards.
Welding certification procedures ensure that welders are qualified to perform the necessary tasks of their field, such as plate welding and structural welding. API welding certification focuses on assessing pipeline welders or welders who work on large-scale petroleum transferring pipe systems like the Alaska Pipeline. This type of certification also pertains to welders that work on petroleum vessels, including oil storage tanks and carbon dioxide spheres used in the gas and oil industries.
To become an API-certified welder, you must pass a welding test. You can take the test at an API testing facility or a certified institution such as a vocational school. Alternatively, you can join a company that needs API-certified welders and possibly have the company pay for the testing fee, which ranges from $165 to $300. Hands-on pipeline welding tests, including those with destructive and non-destructive testing methods, often entail four basic positions: flat, horizontal, overhead and vertical. They also encompass rolled pipes, 45-degree fixed pipes, welding from a restricted position and dealing with fillet and grove welds. Once certified, welders are qualified only to work within the limits established by API.
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API 1104 Code
API welding certification revolves around the API 1104 code. This extensive book serves as a study guide for the certification test and as a field manual for pipeline welders and welders on petroleum vessels. In addition to a list of terminology, the API 1104 code details welding procedures for welds with filler-metal, explains design and prep techniques for joint and production welding and provides instructions for automatic welding procedures without the use of filler metals.
Other Types of Certification
The American Welding Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers stand shoulder to shoulder with API as the prominent providers of welding codes in America. AWS certification applies mostly to structures like buildings, dams and power houses, while ASME certification focuses on pressure vessels such as boilers and steam drums.