Level III certification history and concerns

Until 1977, there was no existing process for a universal, independent evaluation of non-destructive testing (NDT) technician capability in the USA. This was the year that the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) published Recommended Practice No 
SNT-TC-1A: Personnel Qualification and Certification in Nondestructive Testing. I had, by then, been conducting ultrasonic testing (UT), magnetic testing (MT) and penetrant testing (PT) services for 16 years and training technicians in these methods for over 12 years.

At that same time, ASNT provided a scheme for a central certification process for Level III examiners. I was in the first group of Level III examiners to achieve certification (in UT, MT and PT) and have maintained that certification until this year. There was no examination procedure available at the origin of this process and the original certified personnel were chosen based on their response to a questionnaire and by providing evidence of their current NDT career. I had a considerable history in NDT going back to 1960 and had conducted training at the College of Oceaneering for my previous employers and for my own company, Ronald Nisbet Associates.

The process required each company to write its own ‘Written Practice’, which had to describe how the Level III would certify technicians as Level I and Level II. The Level III had to re-certify every five years and the Level I and Level II every three years. I have been recertified every five years since then. My recertification by examination has only been required when I changed companies. My other certifications have been accomplished using the process prescribed by ASNT, which requires using the 25 points system and continued active employment in Level III performance in the methods for which I was certificated. I could easily meet these requirements, but it did not require proof of my being conversant with any of the recently developed processes in the method, especially in ultrasonic testing.

I could not justify retaining my certification using the current process and thus I have decided not to review my Level III certification. My concern is that other Level III personnel could still obtain recertification using the present method, without having to prove their expertise in the most recent advances in the NDT method.

I am encouraged by the announcement that, in 2023, ASNT Certification Services LLC will launch the ASNT 9712 certification programme for Level II and Level III. This programme provides certification to NDT personnel through examination to the highest standard. It offers third-party certifications, including performance demonstration, and supports qualification requirements as per SNT-TC-1A and ANSI/ASNT CP-189. It promotes national and international recognition of NDT certification and can be used within employer-based programmes.

ASNT 9712 requires the successful completion of examinations in any of the four NDT test methods available: MT, PT, UT and radiographic testing (RT). Visual testing (VT) will follow soon. The Level II examinations include a general written examination, covering fundamentals, principles and the theory of the method. The specific written examination covers specific applications of the test method in accordance with codes and standards used in the applicable industry sectors. For the practical examination, applicants must demonstrate the ability to perform the test method and technique on specimens containing known defects.

The Level III examinations include a basic examination, covering certification processes, materials and processes, along with general knowledge of other NDT test methods. A basic supplemental examination covers additional knowledge of examination requirements according to ISO 9712:2021 Non-destructive testing – Qualification and certification of NDT personnel. The method examination covers specific knowledge of the test method. Applicants must demonstrate their ability to perform the method on test samples containing known defects. For the procedure preparation examination, applicants are required to write an NDT procedure based on a supplied NDT standard.

So hallelujah! A legitimate third-party certification scheme has arrived in the USA. How long will it take to replace the existing process?

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