1. Don't know what test they are taking
Sometimes we get welders in the shop who come in to get ready for a test, only to answer that they don't know what test they will be taking when we ask them what should we get them ready for. As a rule of thumb, when a recruiter or contractor contacts you regarding a job, your number one question should be not how much the job is paying, but what test will you be taking.
2. Did not practice for the test
It is always best practice to get ready before taking a welding test. Sometimes even if you are already experienced, a test's atmosphere can feel different and that may take a toll on some of us. Nerves are usually a little more on the edge especially if you haven't worked in a while. So take your time to go down to your local school or find a buddy that can lend you his machine so you can get ready for your test. Don't forget to buy him a 6 pack.
3. Didn't pack the right tools
A testing lab's job is to test your ability. Not to provide you with cone rocks, tungsten or even sometimes a grinder. Always make sure you have the necessary tools when stepping into a testing facility, there is nothing worse than getting looked out on a test because you didn't have the right wheel to clean your weld or the right tig cup to weld that root pass in an extra heavy wall pipe.
4. Show up after the set up time
Always be early, on time is already late. Make sure you show up at least 30 minutes before you have to set up to start the test. This will give you time to go over mentally over the steps you will need to take to make sure you can successfully complete your test. It is also a good idea to show up early because you can make sure you have all of your tools ready to go.
5. Are afraid of their QC/Inspector
The inspector is not your friend, but he is not your enemy either. Inspectors are people too and the majority of them will chat it up as long as you stay professional and eloquent. Ask about their day and for any advice they may be able to give you, especially if it's your first time taking that specific test, by then they may have already seen 100 welders fail the exact same test.
6. Fail to network
Showing up early will also allow you to network with other welders, in an industry as tight knit as welding, knowing others and building bridges will take you a long way, especially if your test does not go as planned you will always be able to call that one welder you met and exchanged numbers with right before the test started. You bet he will call you as well in case things go south for him as well.
7. Don't take water to hydrate while testing
I've probably bought more drinks at welding labs than I ever did when my family and I used to go to the laundromat while I was growing up. Don't make the same mistakes I did and please take a cooler and some water bottles with you. There is nothing worse than drinking a hot soda after you been struggling to cap a pipe for the past 2 hours.
8. Rush their test
Do not rush your test. Rushing through a test even while being experienced will often not yield favorable results. Make sure you have a consistent list of things to look out for while your testing so that you can fix mistakes as you go and still keep a good record of time. Most tests are timed to around 4 hours depending on the difficulty and contractor but it is still best practice not to rush and say for example, start avoiding to grind your restarts or get lazy and push too much material into a pipe that may or may not get rejected due to cold lap.
9. Make a mistake and try to hide it
It will happen. You will make a mistake and as welders our number one instinct is to grab the grinder and try to fix it. However, some tests do not allow grinders, and some inspectors will want to look at mistakes so they can mark it down as rework or defect and allow you to continue, if that is the case keep things honest and make sure you let the inspector know so you can keep your chances of passing your test.
10. Forget to ask the lab what other contractors are testing welders
If at the end of the test you somehow fail, make sure you ask the inspector or other welders around you what other jobs are sending welders to the lab. You are already there and it's the best opportunity to quickly grab another welding test after calling the recruiting office. Do not walk away in shame or try to hide the fact you failed. If there is something every welder should expect in their career is failing a welding test. It's just part of the job.
If you enjoyed this mini-blog please share it with others, it may just help them not fail their next welding test.