Many of us have the hopes of becoming a Level III at some point in our career. However we seem to get conflicting information on what the actual requirements are. This article intends to address the requirements as well as the structure of the actual examinations.

The requirements will vary slightly from one certification scheme to the next. The first step is to find out exactly what the requirements are for the scheme that you choose. The ASNT (American Society for Nondestructive Testing) scheme for example requires you to have 4 years of experience, per method, comparable to a Level II. The PCN/ISO (Personnel Certification in Non-Destructive Testing) scheme requires a shorter duration of experience as a Level II, but also has a requirement for official Level III training. PCN is looking for 24 months of Level II experience for MT/PT/VT and 36 months of experience for RT/UT/ET. Most, if not all the schemes, allow for a reductions in experience based on your educational level. For example, if you have a degree that is recognised by the scheme, they could reduce the experience per method to around 1 year. Make sure you find out what the exact requirements are, as well as if you qualify for any reductions with the certification scheme.

The next part is the study material. Whether it is supplied to you or you have to purchase it, I would highly recommend that you start studying the material well in advance. Most of us work long hours and weekends, which leaves little to no study time. Make sure you make time to hit the books and research unfamiliar topics long before your exam. The volume of work is more than you may expect, however if you break it down into smaller sections and allow yourself enough time, you should not have any problems with it.

The third part I would like to explain is the structure of the exam. When you attempt a Level III exam, you are required to pass a basic examination. This needs to be done no matter what NDT method you choose. The examination consists of three parts: Questions on how the certification scheme works and associated documents; questions on materials and processes/product technology; and, questions on several NDT methods. As a Level III you will need to be familiar with all of these. You do not need to have a Level II in 4 methods to attempt a Level III exam. However you do need to have a fair knowledge of these and it always helps when you have some practical experience to tie the theory with the practical.

The basic examination is a requirement and needs to be passed, along with a main method in order to receive certification. The main method is what you will be certified in. What you will be tested on is at a Level III standard. Main method exams vary slightly from scheme to scheme: some combine a general and spec into one paper, while others offer them separately. Some schemes require you to write a procedure as part of your main method exam.

One of the best starting points, in my opinion, for an aspiring Level III is to go and find the document that governs the certification process and study it. If your company has a copy of EN ISO 9712/ASNT SNT-TC-1a/ PCN GEN/NAS 410, make a point of reading and understanding it. They all share similarities. Also have a read through your company’s written practice.

Remember to start well ahead of time. If you are setting a goal, make sure you know what the requirements are.

A free copy of the PCN gen document can be downloaded from

A.Mahomed NDT Level 3
Chief Examiner
African NDT Centre