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Prof. Terry Clausing

ASNT’s vision on Certification of NDT Personnel with

respect to current and future technologies


L. Terry Clausing, PE


It is a great honor to be invited here to share thoughts on the subject of “ASNT’s vision on Certification of NDT Personnel with respect to current and future technologies.” My professional career mirrors this title. Most of you are experienced in multiple NDT methods, while I have only one method:  infrared thermography.  The name “Infrared Thermography” is a bit misleading because it refers specifically to the operation of infrared cameras. A better description is thermal and spectral analysis because infrared testing is fundamentally about the behavior of infrared radiation in materials. Twenty-five years ago. Infrared thermography was classically thought of as condition monitoring for electrical power distribution systems. Today, the category has matured into a high tech method for examining aerospace composite materials and there is no clear distinction between condition monitoring and nondestructive testing.

In fact, all of our NDT methods have advanced greatly as we try to keep up with the increasingly sophisticated materials being developed. ASNT’s mission is to help create a safer world by promoting the profession and technologies of nondestructive testing. But while many focus on the advancements and technologies, ASNT is looking further to the mission of a safer world. Key is “the world.”  And with the world in mind, ASNT has developed a comprehensive strategic plan. And the cornerstone of the plan is to lead the world in harmonization of NDT certification.

Next year, ASNT will celebrate its 75th anniversary. ASNT is proud to have been part of the NDT industry’s success with ASNT’s core document: SNT-TC-1A, guideline  for employer based NDT certification. And we have also come to recognize how our industry has changed in recent years with ISO’s development of ISO9712 and central certification.

We are at a critical point for our industry. I have met with many of the leaders of our industry’s NDT societies around the globe and the single question I am asked most often is: which program is our future?  Should we follow ASNT’s SNT-TC-1A and employer based certification or ISO9712’s central certification program?

The answer is BOTH; please allow me to explain by asking a question.  Why do we have any certification programs for NDT personnel? The answer is that we need to ensure that those who perform NDT examinations are truly competent.  Certification is not about being able to pas a test. It is about being able to discriminate those who are qualified to do the testing, from those who are not.

ASNT’s SNT-TC-1A employer based program was developed in 1966 and is currently in use by many companies around the world.  The program does a great job of determining who is qualified from who is not, for many companies, but the world is different today and some companies have more extensive requirements.

ISO introduced the ISO9712 central certification program in 1992. Central certification provides a mechanism for ensuring that there is better continuity of qualifications of personnel across companies within a country.

But today, we have many very large, multi-national corporations. These large companies produce products in many different countries. And it has become essential to have personnel who are technically equal from country to country in order to ensure that the products are produced to the same technical standards across the globe. And many of these companies need their personnel to be able to move from country to country to perform NDT tests with the assurance that their certification is recognized and accepted wherever they need to go.

With this in mind, ASNT has decided to develop both employer based certification through SNT-TC-1A and central certification through an identical adoption of ISO9712 with the goal of establishing an internationally portable and globally recognized NDT certification program.

This new program will build on ISO9712 much like the general requirements for certification and build on the SNT-TC-1A program in a way that addresses the specific requirements for a given company and product. The two programs are more than complimentary, they are synergistic.

ASNT’s strategic plan envisions the establishment of one multi-national certification body. One team, where each member of the team is recognized as technically equal with the other members, and provides universal recognition.  

The plan is modeled after Oxford University. I had the incredible opportunity to visit Oxford University earlier this year when attending the International Society for Condition Monitoring.  Oxford is comprised of many separate colleges. I am a mechanical engineer, and I could have studied at any of several colleges within Oxford University. But in order to graduate, all mechanical engineering students are required to take the same examination from Oxford University. Upon completion, they are all graduates of Oxford University. They have achieved a global recognition of achievement, or technical equality. The model is not unique to Oxford University.

We can apply this model to the separate countries and societies that comprise NDT. By establishing one overarching umbrella organization, one certifying body, one team, we can establish an internationally recognized certification.

But there is more to it than simply administering one examination to all. The most important requirement is that we are able to discriminate those who are qualified from those who are not. This requires the development of examinations that are psychometrically valid. Psychometrics is a science based process for developing examinations that genuinely discern those who are capable from those who are not. In fact, before psychometric examinations are used to test candidates, the examinations are tested to ensure that they do in fact discern those who are capable from those who are not. ASNT has been using the psychometric process for many years for the ASNT NDT Level III program. ASNT will base the ISO9712 program on this same scientific principle.

The key to the success of this model is multi-national participation: together, we are one team. Together we establish a program that ensures technical equality of personnel from company to company and from country to country.

Together, success is certain.

Are you ready to join the team?

L. Terry Clausing, P.E.

Chairman, ASNT