NDT Certification

How it works, how to get it

To move up to an NAS 410 Level 2 certification — meaning that the technician gains the general right to make accept/reject decisions — requires another 16 hours of classroom training and testing, plus an additional 270 hours of supervised on-the-job experience. This quantum leap in requirements is essential, given the expanded responsibility open to an NAS 410 Level 2. The reason: Level 2s must have the knowledge and experience to set up NDT equipment and calibrate it to the right specifications; conduct the actual NDT tests and supervise Level 1s who are assisting in the process; evaluate the NDT test results to decide whether a part should be accepted or rejected, and write up reports to record and justify these decisions.

“The Level 2 is the front line inspector,” says Robert Potter, member of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) management council, and vice president of Metal Finishing Company. (Potter is working on ASNT’s efforts to develop an aerospace-specific NDT standard.) “They’re the ones who daily make the big decisions.”

From a career standpoint, Level 2 is as far as many NDT inspectors go. The reason is that Level 3 certified personnel are usually either the people who devise the NDT procedures used at a specific company, or manage those already in place. In fact, “every company must have a Responsible Level 3 — known as an RL3 — on staff and in charge of their NDT programs,” says Gaylord. “A company wishing to set up an NDT program must contract a (NAS 410-compliant) Level 3 to create and administrate the program before turning it over to an RL3 for day-to-day management.”

As with the other levels, those aiming for Level 3 status must meet certain criteria. In this case, they have to pass formal tests, and meet a series of standards including the ability to train Level 1s and 2s; understand the full range of NDT testing methods available, and know how to determine which NDT methods are most appropriate for a given situation.

Besides the three levels, NAS 410 also specifies the qualifications required to become an NDT instructor, and an NDT auditor (someone who audits the NDT procedures of other companies).


Despite the high standards required for all levels of NAS 410 certified personnel, certifications attained at one company are not necessarily transferrable to another. The reason is twofold: First, certification is an employer-by-employer responsibility; there is no centralized NAS 410 testing body that maintains industrywide standards. Second, the NDT tasks required at one MRO may be different from those needed at another.

For those who can foresee switching companies during their career, “it is important to keep copies of your training and experience evidence, as well as past certifications,” says Gaylord. “A person should never rely on a company.”

Such limits aside, gaining NDT certification is a sure way to increase your value as an asset to your employer, and to yourself as a well-paid employee. Besides, being an NDT inspector lets you have a real say in how your clients’ aircraft are maintained. It makes the job more meaningful, on a day-to-day basis.

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