Certified Thermographer

I am having trouble defining “Certified” thermographer. Is there a requirement from government? Insurance companies? to be one? Or is it just so we as inspectors make the correct interpretations?

Many places offer Level 1, 2, 3 certifications, while John McKenna’s class offers “certification”. What’s the difference?

I am looking at this primarily from a home inspection point of view, but am open to refocusing on being a thermographer if necessary to bring the appropriate financial gain.

Any thoughts?:roll:

You can start with a free webinar. Here’s another one.

explained to me as
Level I is elementary school or apprenticeship
Level II is high school or journeyman
Level III is university or becoming a master tradesman
most of the folks i know and communicate will admit they learn daily at any level, share freely and remain humble


heard of a gathering of heads in New Orleans soon

there’s also free inachi training

Hi Chad,

There is no local, state or federal law which requires thermographers to be certified to conduct a building inspection with thermal imaging. There is also no industry recognized central certification agency that provides certifications for thermographers. It is the employer (or the client) who determines (or requires) that a thermographer be certified.

Certification is simply written testimony of whatever qualifications you may have. What have you done…training, testing, experience, etc. that qualifies you to do work as a thermographer. Was it simply attend a training class? Did you take a test? How much experience have you had on your camera? Did someone test your proficiency on that camera? Did they review your reports?

Basic certifications are given out by a number of training organizations after one has completed a course. Now that class could have been one-day, two-days or four-days. It may or may not have required the student to take a test. That test may or may not have been written to industry accepted test standards. The student may have spent one-hour on their thermal imager or 40. Some attend training and never touch a camera during the course but, upon completion, they receive a “certification” from the training organization.

Is that person “certified”? Well, yes, if you ask ABC training organization with whom they took the class. Is that person qualified? Probably not say existing certification standards for thermal imaging in the industry.

The American Society for Non-Destructive Testing has created personnel qualification standards for 13 Non-Destructive Testing methods including thermal/infrared. Their certification guideline for thermography, SNT-TC-1A, outlines the training, testing and experience requirements for each level of thermographer certification, however, they are not a certifying body. Neither is any training organization. Within TC-1A the certifying agency is clearly defined as “the employer of the personnel being certified”.

Another option…if you are a HERS rater and are going to be using infrared, RESNET is working on a guideline that will certify thermographers. The draft standard is still being finalized, but will likely require that you attend either a 32 hour Level I ASNT-compliant (TC-1A) infrared training course or a 3-day infrared for buildings training class administered by an approved RESNET training provider. More details available here: http://www.resnet.us/standards/RESNET_IR_interim_guidelines.pdf

The price and the qualifications of the instructor

Hi Linas,

Thank you for the plug on the free webinar. If I could please add, we just updated this and within the last 20 minutes I have uploaded a new presentation with updated material. Your link should still work.

Thanks again,

Matt Schwoegler
The Snell Group


I was kinda wondering if there was an actual job market out there for Level I, II, an III Thermographers.

Has anybody ever seen where a company was hiring an part of the job qualifications was being Level # certified?

Thanks for the excellent answers. The Snell Group’s webinar has a lot of good information and is very understandable.

Not as a hiring requirement but in my past life the company would take a employ such as a electrician or a industrial mechanic and send them to school for levels 1-2-3 purchase a high end camera and document history PM on their equipment. That is one of the elements that hurts the independent thermographer. A significant amount of electrical companies provide outside training their employes. The classes I have attended were mainly electrical company employees in attendance

Dear Chad:

Great questions!

In the US, there is no governmental agency that certifies thermographers. ASNT is a volunteer organization that publishes standards for certification of nondestructive test personnel. Included in the many documents they publish is Recommended Practice No. SNT-TC-1A. This document details requirements and suggestions for setting up an employer-based certification program. One of the methodologies covered by TC-1A is the Thermal/Infrared Method (thermography).

Presently, ASNT does provide certification in the Thermal/Infrared Method; however, this is limited to Level III where requirements are far beyond the practical means of most home inspectors and professional thermographers. ASNT does not certify anyone to Level I or Level II in the Thermal/Infrared Method nor do they provide training for Levels I and II in the TIR Method. Such training is offered by a number of companies although curricula and quality may vary widely.

Rather than get mired down in claims of ASNT compliancy, I would invite you to examine any infrared training course based upon more important issues. These include, but are not limited to: course content, instructor experience, convenience, and references from trusted colleagues who have taken the subject courses.

While thermal imaging is an extremely useful diagnostic tool for the home inspector, the real value of an infrared imager lies in its potential for inspections of commercial and industrial properties.

Should you choose to go beyond home inspections, thermographic inspections for commercial and industrial facilities can provide a cash flow in excess of $200,000 per year. Typical applications for these facilities include, but are not limited to, electrical and mechanical systems, HVAC systems, building envelopes, and flat roofs.

In order to maximize your chances for success, you will need to acquire an imager sufficient to the application(s) you intend to provide. You will also need to become certified to at least Level I.

The best advice I can offer is to take your training before you buy an imager. Doing so will allow you to see the many applications of thermography and enable you to make an informed decision regarding an imager purchase.

Should you care to learn more about the potential of thermography, I would invite you to check out our web-based short course, Infrared Thermography for Home and Building Inspectors. This 29 minute presentation is available 24/7 and is free to NACHI members.

If you are ready to start your infrared training now, I would recommend either Infraspection Institute’s 32 hour Level I course or our 16 hour course, Infrared Inspections for Home and Building Inspectors. Both are availble as open enrollment classes or via our web-based distance learning program.

Should you have further questions, you may also contact me directly. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to supporting your future endeavors.

I highly recommend Infraspection Institute.


I have previously worked for ARCO and SUNOCO
Infrared was common place for use by the Mechanical and Electrical Inspection Departments (Engineering).

Doing Infrared Analysis of Reactors and Process Vessels / Lines was common place back then
, but rudimentary by current standards.

Times change,
but the results are the same…
only a Tool…

Only a tool, but so few know how to use it properly…

While attending a building science certification class, 4.5 years ago, with FLIR-ITC, I was in the same room with Level I, II, III thermographers from various industries (none came from a building background).

Without fail, every single thermographer in the room (I, II, III) all said that they could not and would not attempt to do a thermal imaging inspection of a home. Even though some of them owned $80,000 camera’s. Why? Because they had no construction background.

The instructor told us that the vast majority of Level III thermographers in north America could not do a building inspection with an IR camera. It is not because their training was no good or that their various skills were lacking. It was because they had no construction training and had never been trained in the diagnosis of buildings with an IR camera. Our instructor also mentioned that it was common in his classes to see Level I, II, III thermographers have a hard time passing his training. Most of the material was not familiar to them.

This fact was made manifest several years ago to FLIR-ITC and that is why they started producing IR certification classes to meet the needs of the emerging building industry. They were getting too many complaints from builders and inspectors who said Level I was not meeting the need of their industry and most of the time was being taught by teachers who had no construction experience.

Every time I post these historical points, it causes a huge backlash of anger from those who feel insulted by these obvious facts. It is common that employers tailor their IR training to the specific needs of their industry. InterNACHI has done the same.

InterNACHI has moidified the Level I training principles to meet the need of it’s home inspector members as well. INFRARED CERTIFIED is a federally registered educational trademark and is geared for our industry only. Hundreds are now operating their IR business from taking our IR class. Some IR schools saw what we were doing and began to copy our class and use the INFRARED CERTIFIED logo as well. For this we are flattered and wish them all well. We have never canceled an online webinar for lack of attendance, in several years, and the demand via word of mouth continues to grow.


Level I certification takes 32 hours to complete (most of these classes have little construction material, but some have started to modify their material after seeing what we have been doing in the inspection industry for several years).

INFRARED CERTIFIED takes over 110 hours to complete and is filled with construction based material that is geared for inspectors only. We also cover real world ideas on how to make money with an IR camera and our students can buy the lowest price IR cameras in the USA. The offical INFRARED CERTIFIED TRAINING class is one of the best courses in the industry and has prepared hundreds for the use of an IR camera while doing a home inspection.


Why would you use a $80,000 dollar camera to evaluate a $100,000 dollar home.

In the petrochemical industry, use of the camera could save you 1.5 million per day in down time (average shutdown to start was 7 day minimum).

It is very easy to see why the technology was never employed

This analogy goes the other way as well.

There are many home inspectors claiming they can do other stuff with the thermal camera which they are not qualified to do.

Look at their web sites.

However John, a level I, II, or III is more qualified to “figure out” your building application course because of their greater background in theory.

There are a ton of camera owners out there doing building stuff because they know building stuff but still can’t get it right because not all things are the same all the time.

It takes theory to know when to turn on the camera as well as the knowledge of what you are pointing it at.

The fact that your course “certifies” someone when you have one building science course, taken 4 1/2 years ago (this course no longer exists, by-the-way), makes me question the validity of it’s certification. By the way, what are your plans when your ITC certification expires soon in 2012?

I never said to use an 80K camera to evaluate a $100K home. I said some of the thermographer’s owned this type of camera, as an example of how involved they were in their trade. They did not come from the building industry.

Thank you for the facts about the petrochemical industry. Many examples could be used.

But, again, the primary reason these Level III thermographers agreed that they would never attempt to do a building inspection was not because they did not have a good camera, but because they had no construction knowledge.

If someone claims they can do something they are not qualified to do, then that cannot be blamed on anything but immoral behavior. You can show us the websites if you like, but no one is encouraging immoral behavior.

Our FLIR-ITC instructor warned the class that the learning curve to “figure out” Level I was rather short (32 hours), but the required knowledge to diagnose construction defects could take years to learn. All the Level I, II, III thermographer’s in the class agreed with the teacher.

I would like to meet an inspector/thermographer with 32 hours experience who can do building inspections. Please tell us one name.

Why did you ask permission to teach our certification class if it is so bad? Ever since I said no, you have been offended. My response to the original post was not intended to make you show us all your certificates, but if you wish, go ahead and show us. It has nothing to do with the historical record of the facts I posted. The facts are still the same.


Just like your Building Science Qualification, your stuck in the same damn rut.

To clear your mind, I offered to work with you with all the Realtors in this area to educate them of the “feasibility” of thermal imaging. That was something NACHI was working on.

It’s been 4.5 years, why don’t you just get over it?

If I wanted to teach this stuff, I am qualified, certified and I would do it with a company like Infraspection or ITC that has some credibility and resources.

You were working with Will Decker on that class back then. What ever happened to him?

I think the bull s****z is the same, if you ask me.

My only reason to keep up keeping on is because you have the ability to royally screw up this industry for the others involved. I don’t care about “me”. I’m beyond anything you could do to me. As a mater of fact, your helping me with my business by churning out unqualified camera owners.

As for posting web sites. I have no need to drag your past students threw the mud, just to prove a point about you.

I am not trying to tear anyone down.
I am trying to wake up the unknowing that even consider that you could even come close to “certifying” anyone.

Remember the start of this thread?

InterNACHI certifies members who meet the 110+ hours of qualifications,
instead of the 32 hours you think they need. InterNACHI sets the
standards, not me. My class is just part of the process.

You asked to teach my class, if I needed you as our class was growing
in demand. It was a good course to you, until you found out you
were not given permission to teach it.

The rut you say I am stuck in is called doing home inspections. For
some of us, that is all we intend to do with IR. If you want to do
other things, then more power to you.

You claim our students are not doing things right, but you provide no
proof, other than to make broad brush statements about fellow
members. We are all deceived, but you are the enlightened one.
Teach us great master.