NDT recertification and auditing

The processes for NDT technician certification have been firmly in place in the USA using the SNT-TC-1A-based system since 1966, when the document was created. In 1976, the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) introduced the Level III examination, consisting of a basic examination and a method examination given by ASNT. The period for recertification was originally three years but this was expanded to five years in 1984.

Levels I and II technician recertification should always be by re-examination and not by certification of continuous satisfactory performance.

The platform for the credibility of the SNT-TC-1A programme has always been the central certification process established by ASNT. Certification of Level I and II NDT technicians is the responsibility of the employer, using a Level III as the medium for examination in the specific method.

Each employer is responsible for the establishment of their written practice, in which they state training, experience and examination requirements. SNT-TC-1A also recommends a process for ensuring that technicians remain current with the theory and practice of the NDT methods for which they are certificated. This can be achieved by conducting an ongoing field audit process and periodic reviews and testing. The original expiry date of Level I and II certifications was three years, which was expanded to five years in 2006. Since the SNT-TC-1A document is a recommended practice, each company can interpret the concept of ensuring a process of maintaining current knowledge and practices with some degree of flexibility.

One approach that I have applied involves a monthly review of one segment of the NDT method theory conducted by a senior technician and followed by a written test. This is amplified by unannounced field audits. The results are maintained in the technician’s file. Other approaches include annual testing.

But what about the Level III?  
How can it be determined whether the Level III has remained current with rapidly changing techniques and NDT processes? Remember, the Level III can be recertificated by obtaining the requisite number of points, a system developed to ensure that the Level III is remaining current with the constant and rapid development of new techniques and applications.

Let us take the ultrasonic testing (UT) method as an example. I have been able to maintain my 
Level III certification in ultrasonic testing since my initial certification examination using the points system. Until recently, I was still actively conducting field ultrasonic testing using current applications and felt that I was current with existing technology. I did learn about the time-of-flight diffraction (TOFD) and phased array detection processes. However, I am now being obliged to learn about phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT), non-beam forming full matrix capture (FMC) and the total focusing method (TFM) and gain the ability to prepare and review training and examinations in these techniques.
My point is that there is no mechanism in the current ‘renew by points’ system to determine whether a Level III, who has consistently recertificated by points since, say, 1998, has sufficient knowledge of new technology to fulfil the required Level II functions.

Possible solutions would be limiting recertification by points to three successive years, then requiring re-examination or proof of additional specific training. I know that this issue has been raised in PCN and may have already been successfully addressed.

The ultimate goal is to ensure adequate training and evaluation of the Level I and II technicians who conduct the majority of the actual critical 

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