Take our quiz to see what welding career could be a good fit for you, and then explore what your next step might be.
Curriculum for Quality Welding Education
SENSE is a comprehensive set of minimum standards and guidelines established by AWS for welding educators to follow when developing their welding training curriculum. While comprehensive, these standards are also flexible enough that almost any welding program will be readily able to implement them.
To submit an enrollment form, register new students, or view materials for instructors or students, select the “Log In” link below.
Become a SENSE Training Organization
Strong Foundations, Customizable Learning
SENSE isn’t a specific training course—it’s the educational and regulatory blueprint used to build flagship welding programs. Created by expert volunteers from all corners of the industry, SENSE is a framework of minimum standards and guidelines for developing customized training and education programs.
A History of Educational Excellence
When AWS launched SENSE in 1993 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, its guidelines were created to be the gold standard for developing welder learning programs. SENSE takes generations of know-how and concentrates it into a strong, flexible education framework suited to welders of every skill level.
From Fundamentals to Funding
AWS SENSE doesn’t just provide the basis for top-tier curriculum development. The program’s built-in adherence to government regulatory and safety guidelines helps ensure schools and businesses have a leg up when applying to fund their training programs with federal assistance packages like Perkins grants.
Educators using SENSE receive a complimentary one-year Educational Institution Membership with AWS, and eight free reference books for their welding classroom. Upon program completion, welders earn AWS credentials and have their names listed in the SENSE Training Database.
AWS Welder Workforce Grant
Grants of up to $25,000 are available for secondary and post-secondary education/training institutions to enhance and improve welding programs. Learn more and access the application at Welding Workforce Grant.
Get Registered, Get Results
Give your institution a competitive edge in the industry by becoming an AWS SENSE Training Organization. To do so, complete the following steps:
- Review the SENSE standards, which outline program implementation (available upon registration).
- Complete the SENSE Registration Packet, which includes a Registration Form, a Letter of Commitment, an AWS Educational Institution Membership Application, and an Instructor’s Customized Library Form.
- Submit the completed SENSE registration packet to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Register/enroll students on SENSE Online by submitting an enrollment form to email@example.com.
- Implement a curriculum that is in alignment with the SENSE standards. Ensure curriculum prepares students to meet all Key Indicators.
- Train students and administer practical knowledge exams and applicable performance tests to graduate students.
There is a one-time registration fee of no more than $650 (Level I=$550, Levels I & II=$650) for each SENSE educational facility. An enrollment fee of $25 per new student will also apply.
How SENSE Works
SENSE programming is modular, with instructors and administrators determining the best methods to review the content with their students. After Key Indicators for a module have been reviewed, instructors administer the AWS-developed multiple-choice test* and (as applicable) a performance evaluation in the process(es) (SMAW, GTAW, GMAW, or FCAW) they are covering.
|SENSE Level||Level I||Level II|
Entry Level Welders
Students can earn up to four certificates, one for each completed process.
Topics covered include:
Advanced Level Welders
Students can earn up to 10 certificates, one for each completed process.
Topics covered include:
|Standard for SENSE Educational Programming
QC10: Specification for Qualification and Certification of SENSE Level I – Entry Welders
QC11: Specification for Qualification and Certification of SENSE Level II – Advanced Welders
|Standard for SENSE Instructors
EG2.0: Guide for the Training of Welding Personnel: SENSE Level I – Entry Welders
EG3.0: Guide for Training of Welding Personnel: SENSE Level II – Advanced Welders
|Standard for SENSE Testing Procedures
EG2.0 Supplement: Supplement SENSE Level I – Entry Welder Training Performance Testing Procedures
EG3.0 Supplement: Supplement SENSE Level II – Advanced Welder Training Performance Testing Procedures
*Practical knowledge exams for Level I may be administered via SENSE Online or in paper format. Level II practical knowledge exams are currently available only in paper format.
After successfully completing SENSE-designed coursework, students will be listed in the SENSE Training Database and receive an AWS SENSE Certificate of Completion. Each then earns a wallet card containing both their information and the process module(s) (SMAW, GTAW, GMAW, or FCAW) they completed. In addition, students can download their credentials via SENSE Online (Level I only).
AWS SENSE Portal and new Learning Management System
We are excited to announce that the AWS SENSE Program will be migrating over to a new Learning Management System come First Quarter 2024 along with SENSE Registration Portal.
Frequently Asked Questions From Instructors
If someone in the training organization is already an individual AWS Member, or the organization’s already an EIM, what happens to the free membership at sign-up?
The AWS Membership Department will tack on an extra year to the organization or individual’s membership.
Does AWS supply training materials to the SENSE Training Organization?
No. SENSE is a blueprint for training that provides standards and guidelines for what to teach. In practical terms, this means you’ll get educational benchmarks, evaluation criteria, and learning activities, along with knowledge-based assessments, workmanship sample procedures, and Performance Qualification Tests—but no calibrated training materials.
Is it required to have a CWI or CWE at the SENSE Training Organization?
CWIs and CWEs are certainly encouraged, but not required.
Can instructors inspect student work, or do we need to hire an inspector?
Workmanship samples and Performance Qualification Tests can be inspected by instructors. For knowledge-based assessments, an Assessment Coordinator is required.
Does AWS conduct an up-front audit?
No. When your organization initially agrees to maintain the integrity of the training program in its letter of commitment, we take it at its word. However, should an impropriety arise down the line, your organization will be subject to an audit.
How many times can a student retake the exam?
Up to three retests are allowed. If the student fails the test and fails the three repeats, it’s recommended they have remedial training. The administration of the test and the number of retests is left to the discretion of the school.
If the school’s current welding curriculum exceeds AWS SENSE program standards, can I still participate?
Of course. Remember, these specifications and guidelines are the minimum foundational skills required to run an academic welding program. We encourage training organizations to go beyond them to meet academic or demographic requirements.
Is there a fixed sequence of instruction?
Not at all. The specifications and guidelines were designed as a road map. The actual order and method of instruction are left to instructors and their training organizations.
What is the difference between a SENSE certificate and a Certified Welder certification?
The following chart gives an overview of the differences between a certification and a certificate.
Certified Welder Certification
Scope of Certification/Certificate
The Certified Welder program is a performance-based program testing a student’s ability to produce sound welds to specific codes, on a specific base material, within a specific range of variables, using a specific process.
The SENSE Certificate Program verifies students have attained a broad range of welding-related competencies. Students must show competency not just in welding on various base metals and ranges, but also demonstrate understanding of welding theory and practice.
Must be conducted through an AWS Accredited Test Facility with a CWI that did not recently train the student.
Can be completed in the SENSE school’s welding lab, or any other suitable location. It may be supervised by the SENSE Instructor, Testing Supervisor, or any other person deemed appropriate by the school.
No written exams.
To gain their certificate, SENSE students must successfully complete a series of written exams. These exams cover a breadth of welding theory ranging from safety and process fundamentals to inspection.
Number of Tests
To become a Certified Welder, students complete only a practical welding test to a particular Welding Procedure Specification (WPS).
To complete a SENSE Certificate Program, students must complete all required written examinations and practical welding assessments. The total minimum number of assessments needed to gain a single SENSE Certificate is 10. Students can gain additional certificates with additional assessments.
Every 6 months.
Prerequisites for Certification/Certificate
To be a Certified Welder students must complete a welder performance qualification test and submit an application to AWS.
To gain a SENSE certificate, students must complete required written examinations for all modules and complete all practical assessments.
Frequently Asked Questions from Students
Where do I log in to my SENSE Online account?Log in at senseonline.org. Just enter the email address you provided your instructor along with the password you created.
Are there username requirements?Your username is the email address you provided the instructor. Whenever you enter it, make sure to type the full address — for example, firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I get my password?Check with your instructor. After the school’s enrollment and registration have been processed, they’ll get an email from AWS with your login information.
I lost my password. How can I get a new one?
If you don’t know your password, try these steps:
- Check your email. An email was sent to the address you provided your instructor. That initial email contains a temporary password link that allows you to log in to the system for the first time. If you haven’t already, click it and create your own password.
- Recover your password. Go to senseonline.org and select the “Forgotten your username or password?” link. When prompted, enter and confirm your email address. An email containing a temporary password link will be sent to it within a few minutes.
- Spam. Check your spam folder.
- Contact AWS. If none of the above work, send an email explaining the problem to email@example.com and we’ll help sort it out.
I was told I have an account, but I can’t log in to SENSE Online. What can I do?
There are four main reasons why an existing user may not be able to log in to their AWS account:
- Wrong email address. Verify that the email address you’re using is the one your instructor provided to AWS during the registration process.
- Spam. Check your spam folder and trash — your SENSE Online invitation email may have accidentally wound up there.
- Wrong password. Double-check the case for the temporary passwords you were sent. Caps Lock being turned on or keying in an incorrect case is frequently the problem.
- Locked account. More than five unsuccessful attempts to log in to your SENSE Online account in less than 30 minutes leads to a temporary lockout. If this happens, you’ll need to wait another 30 minutes before it unlocks.
How do I print/download my certificate?
Once you complete all the requirements that earn you a SENSE certificate, it’s immediately downloadable. There are two ways to access it:
- Your user dashboard has a menu box called “Download Certificates.” Every certificate you earn through SENSE can be accessed through this menu box.
- Scroll to the bottom of your SENSE course. You’ll see links for “SENSE Level 1 Welding Process Certificates” or “SENSE Level 2 Welding Process Certificates.” Select the one that applies to your course, and a panel containing your certificates for that level will open.
Where do I get my SENSE wallet card?You’ll find your wallet card in the Welding Process Certificates and Wallet Card section after downloading one of your certificates.
My wallet card doesn’t reflect the welding processes I have completed.It can take up to 24 hours from the time your instructor enters the grades for your wallet card to be updated.
Will I need to print a new wallet card every time I complete a new process?Yes. You’ll need to regenerate and reprint your wallet card to reflect newly completed processes.
How/when do I take a test?In order to gain access to a SENSE Online exam, your instructor will have to unlock it for you — but remember, exams are unlocked by instructors for only a set period of time, so follow their directions closely. Once unlocked, access the exam by entering your SENSE Level I or II course, navigating to the modules, and selecting the Theory Exam link for the specific module you need. This will take you to the test’s landing page, and from there you can begin the exam.
How do I check my grades?
There are two options for checking grades on the SENSE Online system:
- Select the “My Gradebook” link in the “Quick Navigation” box.
- Under each module, there’s a “Student - Check your grades” link. This link redirects students to their grades.
How do I file a grievance?To file a grievance, select the “Grievance Policies and Procedures” link on the “Quick Link” menu. After reading through the “Grievance Investigation Procedures,” select “Download Grievance Form,” print the form, and fill it out completely. Once you’ve finished filling it out and signing it, mail the form to AWS at:
American Welding Society
ATTN: Education Services, SENSE Certificate Program
8669 NW 36th Street, #130
Miami, FL 33166
Who should I contact if I need help?Email any questions not covered here to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is the SENSE Certificate Program the same as a Certified Welder?No. When a student completes the SENSE Certificate Program through a participating school, they will receive a SENSE certificate as an Entry Level Welder (if they completed SENSE Level I) or a SENSE certificate as an Advanced Welder (if they completed SENSE Level II).
How long does it take to gain a SENSE certificate?It depends on the program and the number of hours it meets each week. For intensive programs, a SENSE Certification can be gained in 6 to 8 months. For programs meeting less often, a certification may take a year or two to earn.
What is the difference between a SENSE certificate and a Certified Welder certification?
If you have a question we haven’t already covered, send it to email@example.com. Please indicate your first and last name, your organization’s name, and whether you are a student or an instructor. We’ll respond ASAP.