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Thermographer Qualification & Certification--The Importance of Being a Certified Thermographer!

Learning to use a modern thermal imager is relatively easy—it can typically be mastered with basic training and hands-on practice. However, properly interpreting a thermal image is often more difficult. It requires not only a background in the application of thermography but also additional, more extensive, training and hands-on experience with thermal imagers.

To gain full return on investment in thermography, it’s important to qualify and certify thermographers! Regardless of the specific use of the technology, thermographer qualification is based on training, experience, and testing in one of three categories of certification. (See Figure 1)

Figure 1. There are three levels of thermographer certification.

While thermographer certification represents an investment, it is an investment that typically pays large returns. Not only do certified personnel produce higher quality inspections, their inspections are also more technically consistent! Uncertified thermographers are more likely to make costly and dangerous mistakes—and these mistakes often result in serious consequences, such as inaccurate recommendations regarding the criticality of the problems discovered or problems being completely missed altogether. While the appropriate qualification is important, written inspection procedures are also important for attaining high-quality results.

In the United States, certification is issued by the employer in compliance with the standards of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT). ASNT is an organization that helps create a safer environment by serving the nondestructive testing professions and promoting nondestructive testing technologies through publishing, certification, research and conferencing. In other parts of the world, certification is provided by a central certifying body in each country that complies with the standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which is a nongovernmental, international organization that is comprised of national standards institutions from more than 90 countries.

Under both models, qualification is based upon the appropriate training, as outlined in the documents of the relevant standards. A period of qualifying experience and some form of written and hands-on examination are also required.

With all this information, here’s a tech-tip to take away: Prior to performing a thermal inspection, the thermographer should perform a “walk-down” of the planned inspection route to ensure efficiency and to look for possible safety concerns.

Stay tuned for more training and safety information this whole month! All basic information that will help you become a better thermographer :)

9 comments to Thermographer Qualification & Certification–The Importance of Being a Certified Thermographer!

  • As a thermographer for close to twenty years, I could not agree with your article more. Thermography is not an “on the job” training occupation without the proper certification from a reputable and recognized training company. Once an infrared imager is purchased, I definitely recommend certification prior to conducting any type of surveys. The certification expense is minimal compared to the mistakes that can be made during a survey due to lack of knowledge.

    Fred Baier
    Level 3 Thermographer – Infraspection Institute

  • Fluke Thermography

    Thanks for the great input, Fred, and for backing up our post about how important it is to get certified. Coming from a Level 3 Thermographer, you definitely have the experience to speak about this topic!! Hope to hear more from you in future posts :)

  • Jeremiah Schnuerle

    I am currently a student in the wind energy program at CCCC in Concordia Ks. A substations, mechanical systems, hydraulics, and transformer theory class is required for the degree. I have taken those courses and became interested in the thermographing testing that they do at substations. I want to get certified in that area of specialty because I think it would compliment my degree. I was wanting any certification and training information that can help me reach my goal. I will be done with my degree by July of 2011 and would like to jump into the training when I am done. I envy Fred with a level 3, that is what I want. Thanks

  • Fluke Thermography

    Well, Jeremiah, seems like you’re on the right track! Thanks for contributing to this blog, and we hope that the information you find here will help you with your certification and future in thermography.

    Besides this blog, you can find more training information below that might help you out:
    Fluke Thermal Imaging Training Center: Online and Hands-on Seminars
    Fluke Thermography Application Notes
    Fluke Thermography Videos/Demos

    Good luck, and let us know if you have any other questions!

  • Dhanasekar

    Hi I need to know how to get certification in thermographic

  • Fluke Thermography

    No problem! Here’s a recent post from John Snell of The Snell Group, on how to get RESNET Infrared Certification–as well as a link to Infrared training courses from The Snell Group:

    Get RESNET Infrared Certified! – Includes a link to the application form and thermography certification guidelines
    The Snell Group – Infrared Training Courses

    Let us know if you need any other information!

  • Jason H

    Hello all, great site. My company is looking into getting a new thermography technician, and I was wondering what is required for the certification? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  • Fluke Thermography

    What constitutes certification varies from company to company. For some, a basic certification scheme is all that is needed—successfully complete the training course. Others decide more is needed and to adhere to the ASNT guidelines which state that the thermographer follow the company’s written practice; an internal document based on TC-1A that outlines the training, testing and experience required to meet these employer requirements for certification. The industry, via ASNT (American Society for Non-Destructive Testing), has defined certification as being administered by the employer of the personnel being certified. ASNT’s guideline, SNT-TC-1A (Personnel Qualification and Certification in Nondestructive Testing), outlines the training, testing and experience required to achieve this employer-based certification for thermographers. Most, but not all, infrared courses adhere to the ASNT guideline for curriculum. Some, but not all, infrared courses make allowances for ASNT-compliant testing.

    While certification means different things to different people, ultimately you, your employer and customers will steer you to an answer of what type of certification is required. I would encourage you to not get hung up on “certification” as much as concentrate on being “qualified”. While sometimes they are one in the same, many times they are not! Some people have made up various certification schemes and they claim to be many things when in all reality they are not anything more than hype. Don’t get caught up in all the hype and make the decision that works best for all stakeholders. Does certification mean attending a class, or does it mean attending a class and taking written and practical examinations and gain experience hours (meeting ASNT recommendations) or something entirely else? While there is no right or wrong answer to the question, it is an important one that should be consciously made.

    If you need anything further on this topic, please feel free to contact us by phone or through the “Contact Us” section on our website at http://www.thesnellgroup.com/ContactUs.aspx.

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