Top 4 Criteria to Define a Senior Inspector

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August 5, 2013 By Marc McConnell, P.E. at Versa Integrity Group

From the Editor: Today’s blog is by my friend and Inspectioneering Journal author Marc McConnell, P.E., Director of Corrosion Technology at Pinnacle AIS. His post covers an issue that many of us have faced. If you have any feedback, visit the Inspectioneering LinkedIn Group to post your comments.

At PinnacleAIS, we often get requests for a Senior API Inspector. But what does that mean exactly? What qualifications are required? Is there a test or a certification that provides the end user with assurance they are getting a higher caliber inspector or inspection service? Often there are different ideas of what comprises a “Senior” Inspector. While there is no test and no formal, industry-wide definition, here at Pinnacle we believe that meeting the following 4 criteria allows an inspector to be defined as a Senior API Inspector:

Criteria #1 – Certifications

The American Petroleum Institute (API) provides several certifications pertinent to inspection. Chief among them are these three, which must be achieved to qualify for Senior Inspector:

API 510 – The goal of the Pressure Vessel Inspector Certification is to improve management control of process unit operation, repair, and maintenance; reduce the potential for inspection delays resulting from regulatory requirements; and provide a continued high level of safety through the use of inspectors specialized in process equipment.

API 570 – The Piping Inspector Certification provides a continued high level of safety through the use of inspectors specialized in process piping; to improve management control of process unit inspection, repair, alteration and rerating; and to reduce the potential for inspection delays resulting from regulatory requirements.

API 653 – The Aboveground Storage Tank Inspector Certification promotes safe storage and material handling of petroleum products in a manner that protects employees, the public, and the environment. This includes Supplement 1 to API 653, Tank Inspection, Repair, Alteration, and Reconstruction.

Criteria #2 – Experience

To gain the valuable experience necessary to be called a Senior Inspector, we recommend that he/she hold their API Certifications for at least six years. We’ve all known someone who has the education but does not yet have the experience to round it out. An individual who holds these certifications for six years will have a different type of perspective based on the experience gained over that time. In addition, the inspector has a variety of opportunities to gain valuable experience in different scenarios, with other professionals, and with various situations. This in no way diminishes those who have not been certified longer; but if our goal is to define a Senior Inspector, more time provides for a higher level of experience.

Criteria #3 – Longevity/Perspective

Closely related to experience is the longevity of a Senior Inspector. We suggest the total “cert time” be at least 20 years; by adding together the total years of certification for each certification, you should reach 20 years. However, the point of longevity isn’t simply to hold certifications for longer periods of time. To be called a Senior API Inspector, you should have more experience across more technical areas. Twenty years of experience across multiple certifications provides the inspector with greater perspective, judgment, and depth of understanding. This type of perspective can only be achieved through many years of practical, technical experience.

(Optional) Criteria #4 – Supplemental Certification

This last one is optional, but important: a Senior Inspector should hold at least one supplemental certification. Securing additional, supplemental certifications demonstrates an increased knowledge in the field, as well as a desire to go “above and beyond” the basics. Here are just a couple of the available supplemental certifications pertinent to a Senior Inspector:

API RP 571 – Proper identification of damage mechanisms is important when implementing the API Codes and conducting RBI. This Supplemental Certification demonstrates advanced knowledge and expertise in the area of Corrosion and Materials based on API RP 571.

API 580 – The goal of this optional Certification program is to provide documented evidence of advanced knowledge and expertise in Risk Based Inspection based on API RP 580.

Again, these 4 criteria are not necessarily the only methods that can be used to qualify as a Senior API Inspector. But these criteria help provide a more objective way to determine if your inspector has the experience and expertise required to be called Senior Inspector.

About the author

Marc McConnell, P.E., has 30 years of experience as an owner-user and consultant to the refining and chemical process industries, is a licensed Texas Professional Engineer, and is certified in API 510, API 571, API 577, and API 580. He was also a contributing editor to API 571 (2nd Edition), API 584 (not yet released), and API 575. Marc serves as Director of Corrosion Technology at PinnacleAIS, a leading technology and services provider, specializing in wholesale improvements in asset integrity for the oil and gas, chemical, and mining industries. Email Marc at marc.mcconnell@pinnacleais.com and learn more about PinnacleAIS at www.pinnacleais.com.


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