Inspectioneering Journal

NDT Certification De-Mystified

Making Sense Out Of Certification For NDT Personnel Per SNT-TC-1A

By Paul Marks at NDT Training and Placement Center. This article appears in the May/June 2006 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

The term "certification" has been used and abused over the decades since the 1960's when the American Society for Non-Destructive Testing (ASNT) published its first Recommended Practice SNT-TC-1A, 2001, our comments are meant to clear up and de-mystify the issue of certification within the minds of users of NDT services in this country. This article goes to the heart of the question, "What does certified Level I or II NDT technician really mean?"

Why the Mystery

The term “certification” has caused much confusion within the industries that use NDT services due primarily to a lack of understanding of a few facts:

  1. Certification is a document of testimony on the part of a knowledgeable person in the particular NDT method – typically the candidate’s supervisor, department manager or corporate officer depending on the size of the employer.
  2. Certification in any NDT method is properly earned after a candidate has completed the process spelled out by a base document called the Written Practice for Qualification and Certification of NDT Personnel or Written Practice for short.
  3. A technician’s certification ends concurrent with his or her termination of employment. The idea is that the employer adopted full responsibility for the technician’s actions and decisions when he or she was hired, qualified and certified; but assumes no further responsibility for actions beyond the employment period. (One may not rightly claim Level II status unless he’s employed by the company that put him through the qualification process.)

The most significant fact to understand about certification is this: if it has been properly earned through a stepped process called qualification, the technician should be capable of providing consistent and trustworthy service.

The important question for end-users of NDT services should always be this – is the technician properly qualified?

Taking a closer look at the basic issue of proper qualification reveals that a candidate must move through a series of steps designated by the employer to:

  • impart a full understanding of the body of knowledge concerning the NDT method;
  • impart a full understanding of the application of the method to particular parts and assemblies specific to that company’s focus, and finally;
  • provide mentoring to the candidate by use of on-the-job training (Time in Method) that allows for observation, participation and finally ‘hands-on’ application of the method being applied.


Regardless of which NDT method is being utilized, the guiding recommendations of SNT-TC-1A dictate candidates go through the following three qualification “gateways”.

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