Personnel Certification

Certification Services Division 

Personnel certification and quality assurance
Non-destructive testing and inspection are vital functions in achieving the goals of efficiency and quality at an acceptable cost. In many cases, these functions are highly critical; painstaking procedures are adopted to provide the necessary degree of quality assurance. The consequences of failure of engineering materials, components and structures are well known and can be disastrous.

It is an increasing requirement of quality assurance systems that a company's engineers, technicians and craftsmen are able to demonstrate that they have the required level of knowledge and skill. This is particularly so since NDT and inspection activities are very operator dependent and those in authority have to place great reliance on the skill, experience, judgement and integrity of the personnel involved. Indeed, during fabrication, NDT and inspection provides the last line of defence before the product enters service, whilst once a product or structure enters service, in-service NDT is often the only line of defence against failure.

Personnel certification – the options
There are two main routes to qualifying NDT personnel:

In-company certification; for example SNT-TC-1A
In company certification means that the scheme for examining and certifying inspection and test personnel is controlled by a company procedure. This procedure is usually produced and operated by an independently qualified person who may be employed by the company or be an external consultant. The main advantage of this system is that companies with unusual inspection requirements can ensure that their personnel are qualified only in areas specific to the inspection task.

Advice and assistance to organisations wishing to install or improve their in-house certification procedures is available from the Institute's Employer Certification Group. The Certification Services Division provides a secretariat for this group, which has expertise and knowledge of employer based certification programmes satisfying the requirements and/or guidance of AIA-NAS-410, SNT-TC-1A, ASNT-CP-189 and EN4179. The Employer Certification Group can give your system added credibility by assessment and certification of compliance with these documents.

Independent certification complying with European and international standards, for example the PCN Scheme
Independent central (or third party) certification means that personnel are required to pass examinations which are devised and set by professional examiners authorised by a Certifying Body which has overall control over the certification process which it operates.

The main advantage of such a system is that independently awarded verifiable qualifications carry wider recognition and acceptance. The PCN scheme also offers a system whereby qualification of NDT personnel can be carried out in accordance with European and international standards by an Authorised Qualifying Body or AQB. An AQB is defined as:

"A body, independent of any single predominant interest, authorised by the Independent Certifying Body to prepare and administer examinations to qualify NDT personnel."

PCN document CP/23 sets out the general requirements for the creation of PCN Authorised Qualifying Bodies for the purposes of issuing NDT personnel certification complying with agreed standards. Such a system offers the best of both worlds and has numerous advantages but, beware, not all such certification schemes confer wide recognition and acceptance. You can be confident that, holding PCN Certification, you will gain the widest possible recognition and acceptance, as well as a highly cost-effective service!

Any organisation – anywhere in the world – interested in becoming authorised to conduct PCN examinations is encouraged to seek further information from nicole.banks@bindt.org