Which is best, either PCN or ASNT for NDT Certification?

The choice between PCN (Personnel Certification in Non-Destructive Testing) and ASNT (American Society for Nondestructive Testing) for NDT (Non-Destructive Testing) certification depends on several factors and considerations.

Both PCN and ASNT are well-recognized and respected certification schemes in the field of NDT, but they have different approaches and recognition levels. Here are some key points to consider:

What is PCN NDT Certification?

The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT) has developed the PCN (Personal Certification for NDT) program, which adheres to EN ISO 9712 standards.

PCN GEN outlines the requirements for training, work experience, and examination for all NDT Operators certified through the program. Each method and level have specific minimum training hours and work experience requirements.

Additionally, PCN mandates the successful completion of an examination. While work experience can be obtained before or after the examination, it is recommended to acquire it beforehand. If the examination is taken prior to gaining experience, a results notice is issued, and the experience must be obtained within 24 months.

Once the examination is passed and the required work experience is obtained, an application is submitted to PCN to receive the certification.

What is ASNT NDT level III certification?

The ASNT Level 3 scheme operates in a similar manner to the PCN Level 3 scheme. To attain ASNT Level 3 status, candidates must pass a Basic examination and successfully complete the required examinations for each additional method at Level 3.

The examination must be taken at a location designated by ASNT, and this location changes on an annual basis.

PCN vs ASNT NDT Certifications

ertification SchemePCN (Personal Certification for NDT)ASNT (American Society for Nondestructive Testing)
Level StructureLevels 1, 2, and 3Levels 1, 2, and 3
Basic ExaminationRequiredRequired
Additional Method ExaminationsRequired for each method at Level 3Required for each method at Level 3
Training and Examination ProviderBy accredited institute to provide training and examination for Levels 1, 2, and 3Anyone can offer the training program, but the examination must be done at a location determined by ASNT (CBT Exam)
Examination LocationDetermined by PCNDetermined by ASNT (location changes annually)
Certification IssuedBy PCNBy ASNT

ASNT Certification

The American Society for Non-destructive Testing (ASNT) offers certification based on the employer’s written practice for personnel qualification, which follows ASNT’s document SNT-TC-1A. The NDT Level III within the employer’s organization or an external agency like NDT Academy Private Limited will provide training and conduct the examination according to the employer’s written practice.

If the company does not have a written practice, the recommendations of SNT-TC-1A will be followed for training, industrial experience, and examination. Qualification records, signed by the NDT Level III, will be issued, and based on these records, the employer can issue NDT Level I or NDT Level II certifications.

Once the certification is obtained, it is in the company’s name, and they will retain the certificate regardless of the individual’s experience. The company is responsible for providing relevant experience to the individual. When the examination is completed and the individual meets the company’s written practice experience requirements, they will be qualified as a Level II technician.

The certificate can be transferred to a different company’s name as long as it conforms to that company’s written practice. In some cases, companies may accept a certificate in a different company’s name, but the inspection work must be carried out on their behalf. The validity of the ASNT certificate is typically 3 or 5 years, depending on the company’s written practice requirements. Examination questions may be simpler as individuals may have no prior experience in a specific NDT method.

PCN Certification

Personnel Certification in Non-Destructive Testing (PCN) is a British/European scheme based on BS EN ISO 9712, Personnel Certification Scheme. PCN certification involves training conducted by an Approved Training Centre (ATO) accredited by the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT), and the examination is conducted by an Approved Qualification Body (AQB) also accredited by BINDT.

If the candidate successfully completes the examination, BINDT issues the certificate directly to the candidate’s postal address.

PCN certification belongs to the individual, allowing them to switch between companies or contracts without the need for re-examination or changing the certificate’s name. The PCN certificate is valid for 5 years. In order to become qualified after examination, practical experience is required in each discipline the individual seeks to attain.

If no experience is held, the individual will receive a results notice, which is not a qualification. This means that the individual cannot sign off on any reports until they have gained the required practical experience, recorded it, and submitted it to PCN for the certificate to be issued.

International vs. North American Focus

PCN is more internationally recognized and widely adopted, particularly in Europe and many other parts of the world. It is governed by the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT) and offers global portability.

ASNT, on the other hand, is primarily recognized and widely used in North America, particularly in the United States. If you plan to work primarily in Europe or internationally, PCN certification may be more beneficial. If your focus is mainly in North America, ASNT certification may be more relevant.

Certification Levels and Specializations

Both PCN and ASNT offer multiple levels of certification and specializations in various NDT methods, such as ultrasonic testing, radiographic testing, magnetic particle testing, liquid penetrant testing, and visual inspection.

PCN offers three levels of certification (Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3), while ASNT offers three levels (Level I, Level II, and Level III) as well. It is important to assess the specific NDT methods and certification levels required for your industry, job role, or project.

Industry Recognition and Requirements

Consider the industry you are working in or planning to work in. Some industries or specific projects may have specific certification requirements or preferences. It is advisable to research and understand the industry standards, regulations, and client specifications to ensure the chosen certification aligns with those requirements.

In some cases, certain industries or clients may have a preference for either PCN or ASNT certification due to historical practices or contractual obligations.

Personal and Career Goals

Consider your personal and career goals in the field of NDT. Research the job market and industry trends in your desired location or industry sector to assess the demand and recognition of PCN and ASNT certifications. Additionally, evaluate the potential for career growth and advancement with each certification scheme.

Jiten Karmakar is an NDT Specialist, holding ASNT NDT Level III and ISO 9712 NDT Level III Qualifications. He is having vast hands-on practical and theoretical experience with all major NDT Methods and technique.