Schools for Aspiring Coating Inspectors: How to Choose

Coatings inspectors ensure that the anti-corrosion coatings that are used on structures such as bridges and water tanks meet set standards. Coating inspector programs and certifications are primarily available through government agencies and professional associations.

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How to Choose a Coating Inspector Program

Coatings inspectors test coating applications using environmental, destructive and nondestructive testing procedures. The Society for Protective Coatings, the National Highway Institute and NACE-affiliated schools and educational centers offer training suitable for aspiring coating inspectors.

List of Considerations

  • Program emphasis
  • Licensure credits
  • Environmental standards

Program Emphasis

Individuals may wish to seek out programs that cover a variety of coating materials and inspection methods. Contrarily, individuals with specific career goals may want to look for programs that emphasize specific types of coating inspection, such as bridge, concrete, nuclear or maritime coatings.

Licensure Credits

Students who need to maintain a professional engineering (PE) license may seek coatings inspections programs that offer professional development credits that apply to a PE.

Environmental Standards

Students may want to seek institutions that offer programs that adhere to environmental standards as well as health and safety regulations.

Overview of Coating Inspector Programs

SSPC Certification Courses

The Society for Protective Coatings, previously known as the Steel Structures Painting Council (SSPC), offers a variety of certifications for coating inspectors. These certifications include: Protective Coatings Inspector, Bridge Coatings Inspector and Concrete Coatings Inspector. Depending on the type of certification, topics covered may include:

  • Surface preparation
  • Application
  • Defects and corrosion prevention
  • Practical math
  • Safety regulations

NACE Certification Courses

The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) offers a Certified Coating Inspector (CIP) certification at three different levels. At each level, NACE offers courses to prepare students for the certification exams. The CIP Level 1 program covers:

  • Curing mechanisms
  • Inspection procedures
  • Case studies
  • Logbook documentation
  • Field lab

The CIP Level 2 program includes 60 hours of coursework. Those who have achieved a CIP Level 2 may take the 2-hour CIP Level 3 peer review exam; NACE sponsors a 3-day preparation course for this exam. Coursework for the CIP Level 2 program includes:

  • Specialized application equipment
  • Cathodic protection
  • Spray metalizing
  • Centrifugal blast cleaning

National Highway Institute Course

This training course is suitable for individuals who want to specialize in inspecting bridge coatings. This 4-day course includes hands-on training and demonstrations of proper coating and inspection techniques. Topics cover:

  • Nondestructive testing equipment
  • Inspection procedures
  • Coatings industry standards
  • Coatings curing mechanisms
  • Quality assurance reporting
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