aws sense program

AWS SENSE Program is an educational program in welding schools in the United States. Basically, it is a comprehensive set of guidelines and minimum standards for welding education. The seed of this program was sown back in 1993 when the US Department of Education awarded grant funding to AWS. American Welding Society (AWS) fully supports this program. Under this program, AWS provides funding to both SENSE registered and member schools for enhancing and improving welding programs.

Post Highlights:

  • What is SENSE?
  • Range of Financial Grants
  • Where to Use SENSE Funds
  • Limitations on Use of Funds
  • SENSE Working Mechanism
  • SENSE Certificate and Certified Welder Certification
  • Soon! AWS SENSE Accreditation


SENSE stands for Schools Excelling through National School Standards Education. Welding schools can include SENSE guidelines in their curriculum. It helps schools to get both funding and education. Students should not confuse the SENSE program with that of the certified welder certification program of AWS.

AWS SENSE Program Grants

A welding workforce grant is one type of such financial grant. AWS mains to secure the future of workforce education in the welding industry. In 2019, up to $25,000 were given to improve training programs across the country. In 2020, the grants were projected to be $325,000. The amount may increase year by year.

Pre-conditions for Grant

  • The applicants must be AWS Educational Institution Members and SENSE Registered.
  • Schools must be either government institutions or non-profit

Who Can Apply for SENSE Program Grants?

The following welding schools can apply for the welding workforce grant.

  • Secondary Schools (which include High School, Career Tech Center, etc.
  • Post-Secondary Trade/Technical Programs or Schools
  • Community Colleges
  • Universities

Where to Use SENSE Funds

The recipient schools must use the AWS SENSE funding for the following activities.

  • Buy capital items as per the requirements.
  • For improving facilities in the institutions.
  • Spending on computers or computer-based training systems.
  • For purchasing or upgrading welding and metalworking equipment in welding schools.

Limitations on Use of Funds

Recipient bodies cannot use the funding on things like-

  • Bearing indirect costs from funding
  • expanding teaching staff
  • Bearing travel expenses
  • granting scholarships to students
  • Irrelevant program to welding education and training
  • Buying personal protective equipment
  • Spending on teaching or lab materials

Note: Private schools and individuals are not eligible for grants.

AWS SENSE Program Working Mechanism

The SENSE program is modular in nature. Both administrators and instructors determine the best method of performance evaluation for students. Normally, GMAW, GTAW, FCAW, and SMAW processes are considered. The SENSE has two levels.

SENSE Level – I
I – Program Direction:

For entry-level welders. They can earn up to 4 certificates of completion.

Topics Include:

  • Safety and health of welders
  • Drawing and welding symbol interpretation
  • Thermal cutting processes: CAC-A, PAC, OFC, and Mechanized OFC
  • Welding processes: GMAW, GTAW, SMAW, and FCAW
II – SENSE Educational Program Standard:

QC10: Specification for Qualification and Certification – SENSE Level I (entry welders)

III – SENSE Instructors Standard:

EG2.0: Guide for the Training of Welding Personnel – SENSE Level I (entry welders)

IV – SENSE Testing Procedures Standard:

EG2.0 Supplement: Supplement SENSE Level I (entry welder training performance testing procedures)


SENSE Level – II
I – Program Direction:

For advanced level welder. They can earn up to 9 certificates of completion.

Topics Include:

  • Welding Metallurgy
  • Trade Math
  • Documents governing welding and welding inspection
  • Welding inspection and testing methods
  • Thermal cutting processes
  • Plate welding processes: GMAW, SMAW, GTAW, and FCAW
  • Pipe welding processes: FCAW, SMAW, GTAW, and GMAW
  • Welding fabrication
II – SENSE Educational Program Standard:

QC11: Specification for Qualification and Certification – SENSE Level II (advanced welders)

III – SENSE Instructors Standard:

EG3.0: Guide for the Training of Welding Personnel – SENSE Level II (advanced welders)

IV – SENSE Testing Procedures Standard:

EG3.0 Supplement: Supplement SENSE Level II (advanced welder training performance testing procedures)

SENSE Certificate and Certified Welder Certification

Aspiring students and welders did not confuse about the SENSE Certificate and Certified Welder Certification. Both are different programs. The following are some of the main differences.

SENSE Certificate Certified Welder Certification
It verifies a wide range of welding-related competencies obtained by welders. It is a performance-based program testing welders’ ability to produce sound welds.
SENSE school’s welding lab can conduct Tests. Conducted in AWS Accredited Test Facility under a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)
It requires a series of written exams. It requires no written exams.
Requires all module written examinations and practical welding assessments. Requires a practical welding test to a specific Welding Procedure Specification (WPS).
It does not need renewal. It renews every 6 months.

Soon! AWS SENSE Accreditation

The AWS SENSE accreditation program is still under development. Possibly, it will be launched soon in the coming years. The proposed name of the program will be AWS SENSE Advanced Education and Training Program (AETP). It aims to enhance the standard of the current welding education programs.

AETP accreditation criteria for organizations will be based on the evaluation of curriculum, equipment, procedures, and staff meeting predetermined qualification criteria. Besides this, the process will ensure proper skills training, welder education, and performance qualification.

Evaluation Process Parameters

They are as follows.

  • Application submission with quality assurance manual as per the AWS QC21 and EG21 standards.
  • Approval of Curriculum. The welding schools following the AWS Fundamentals of Welding curriculum are exempted.


Thus, the AWS SENSE program is a great initiative by the American Welding Society for taking welding education and skills to the next level. The program will boost interest and welding skills starting from the junior level.

Related: Other Welding Certifications

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