Level I Certification Process

Cool …

I’ve been posting here long enough to know folks on this message board do not hesitate to jump into discussions! While sometimes it feels a bit crazy, I appreciate that this can be a way to move a discussion forward.

My intent is NOT to insult anyone or speak disparagingly of them. While I try my best to be even handed, obviously I’ve not fully succeeded in communicating what I’d hope to in this thread. Let me try again.

Certification under both ASNT and ISO standards is based on training, documented, qualifying experience and testing. Under ASNT, the employer certifies. Under ISO, “central certification” is provided by a “certifying body” in each country—in the US none is not available for thermography at this time.

Training can be provided by any qualified training organization; under ASNT the employer determines who that is and under ISO the training organization must be authorized by the government body.

MANY of our customers have taken training from other companies, such as FLIR/ITC and Infraspection, and this can absolutely be counted toward their certification, under either ASNT or, in many cases, under ISO. So none of what I’ve been saying is about Snell training being better than others or that their training is not as good as ours.

The point I’ve tried to make is about certification. I maintain that viable certification is based on standards like ASNT and ISO. The fact that others grant and promote their own version of certification has, IMHO, confused matters. Worse, it left us in a position where a thermography may promote themselves as being certified—even displaying a colorful graphic or showing a wallet card—when what they have is not grounded in a standard. Could they still be a good thermographer? Certainly. But it makes it difficult or impossible to understand what “certification” actually means for the customer.

I don’t know if this responds to all of the questions that have been raised. If there are more I’ve left unanswered and you can re-post them, I’m happy to try to respond from my point of view.

Thermally yours,

John Snell
ASNT NDT Thermal/Infrared Level III #48166
Snell Infrared


I did my Level 1 training with The Snell Group and was impressed with the level of expertise that the trainers had. One of the trainers worked for NASA doing thermal imaging on the space shuttle, another had done thermography since, I think, the early or mid 1980’s. (John, Feel free to correct if I’m wrong) The class participants brought there own cameras witch included Flier, Fluke, Raz-Ir, Palmer Wahl, and a few others I can’t remember at this moment. I thought using all of the different camera brands was great. The instructors did demonstrations with Fluke, Flir, and other cameras. I operated a $4,500 camera, a $50,000 camera, and a few in-between. The training and testing was both hands on applications and pen and paper. I can honestly say that I learned a hell of a lot and plan on getting more training in the future. I think the one thing that everyone here that has gone through Level 1 training, or higher, will agree on is that it is a must before performing inspections for a fee. I don’t care if it is through Snell, Flir, or infraspection, just do it! Any of these will stand up in court or for marketing purposes better than, I read a lot of message boards and played around with it a lot before charging people.
BTW. All of the different brands of cameras I used and observed did similar things. I can say after seeing all these different cameras that this blind loyalty to Flir by some sounds ridiculous. They make great cameras but they are by no means the be all and end all of thermal imaging. Its like saying that Honda is better than Toyota, which is better than Chevy, but not as good as Ford, which is similar to Nissan.

When you sit behind a Flir on an Apache “Long Bow” gunship I’ll pay more attention to you.

We might be able to make a better comparison if all the camera stats were “standardized” as J Snell proposes. When you have sensitivity stats at different temps you can’t compare anything.

Is a 120 x 120 the same as 180 x 120? No, it’s a rectangle instead of a square. But having more pixels overall does not always improve resolution.

It’s not blind loyalty.

ITC is separate from Flir, and for obvious reasons.
During my attendance at Flir/ITC I have not heard a single instructor there talk up or down about any camera manufacturers. We had practically every conceivable camera in the classroom. Positive and negative points for brought out for each one’s application not because of the branding, but often just its physical size and shape.
I don’t see impartiality in some of the other vendors out there however.

If I understand correctly I think the problem here, and what Dan is asking, is that there is not government or authoritative organization that “certifies” thermagraphy. ASNT and such define certain standards, parameters and practices. I am making no comment as to who is better or right or wrong, just trying to understand this process like Dan.

They then leave it to the individual companies or organizations or universities or whatever to research the standards, decide what is applicable to them and set up a standard by which they will then “certify” there employees - in house. I am not exactly sure of the comparison but maybe similar to Microsoft certification or something like that.

I would venture to guess that this is due to the nature of thermography and how it was traditionally used in the past. Probably similiar to how different fields might “certify” people as qualified in certain ASNT or other Asomething scientific standards.

So taking that further, if I understand their positions, Mr. Snell supports this traditional application of the standard and the definition and application of “certified” - as "in house in the corporate environment. While ITC/Flir and Infraspection, perhaps recognizing that new applications are being developed and used that are not corporation related, have decided to develop something similiar to the in house criteria that a big corporation might develop and call it a certification. This is neither right nor wrong , IMHO, but I would consider it more of a marketing thing than a governing body type of certification.

Does that sound right? So ultimately, to answer Dan’s question, while there is a standard to which Thermography should be taught, there is NOT an official governing body nor an official certification. You may get something like that from your provider, but it is much like the NACHI “certification,” and does not stand alone in the world and may or may not mean anything - depending on who you are talking to.

I have no allegence to any of these providers. I went somewhere else, I also learned most of the concepts needed at Texas A&M from a prof who, amoung other things in his past also worked for NASA, in my engineering/heat transfer classes. I have a “certificate” and it “says” that it certifies me as having completed training to the standards of the ASNT. Which I think is vague at best.

I plan to get my level II this spring probably. More than likely, I will go to one of the three providers we have discussed here. Much of that choice, since the tuitions are all about the same and reports from past students are all good, will prbably boil down to the location of the class relative to mine. I would venture to guess, that like most education, most of what you learn depends upon the quality of your individual instructor, their experience, and then the curiculum. If they are all basically developed from the same ASNT and ISO standards, it stands to reason that the curiculums are probably similar. Is a FLIR instructor personally better just because he works for FLIR than another equally experienced individual who has simila training and experience but doesn’t work for a manufacturer? I haven’t seen anyone, at least on this board, who bashed the training they received from any of these providers - so I doubt it. I wen tot a very good university and I still had some good professors and some that really sucked - but they were all professors at a good university. As others have said, despite the fact that there may not be a overall government standard for thermography, I believe that training is most inportant.

Mr. Anderson,

The next time I bring my Apache “Long Bow” gunship to a home inspection I’ll be sure to bring a Flir camera. :smiley:

You have answered your own question with your last sentence Dan.

Buy the ASNT TC 1A document and set up your own program and certify yourself.

The non destructive community/customers may or may not accept your own in house certification. My guess is that Harriet Homeowner will accept your in house cert and let you charge a fee to scan her house.

Some other customers may have more stringent requirements that they would have you meet before they would use your service.

Dear Kevin:

Thank you for your post. Since you raise several questions, I will do my best to answer them in turn below.

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.

Semantics aside, SNT-TC-1A is considered a standard as it is used by thousands of companies to train and qualify their personnel in several NDT disciplines including thermography. While the document does provide some specific requirements, it allows an employer wide latitude it setting their criteria for certification in order that personnel may be trained and qualified to meet the need of the employer and/or their customers.

As a point of clarification, it is the employer’s responsibility to certify his/her employees under TC-1A even if they hire an outside agency for training or guidance in setting up an employer-based certification program. It is not the duty of, nor is it possible for any outside agency or any training company to take over this responsibility from an employer.

Although I have requested his refrain, Mr. Snell has continued to cleverly misrepresent my company’s practices and policies within this thread. This has resulted in readers of this board to be both misinformed and to make inaccurate inferences. I will go no further than to say that it is exactly this type of behavior that is responsible for much of the confusion surrounding the topic of certification.

As I detailed in an earlier post, the title Infraspection Institute Certified Infrared Thermographer® was developed by Infraspection Institute over 25 years ago. Since that time, we have trained thousands of thermographers worldwide utilizing a curriculum that draws from the suggested topical outlines in TC-1A. Our training course curricula are updated regularly to reflect current industry practices, procedures, and standards. The diplomas that we issue our graduates state that they have successfully completed a course of study which meets the training requirements for Thermal/infrared Method as specified by SNT-TC-1A.

For those interested in learning exactly what SNT-TC-1A contains, I would recommend they purchase a copy of this document. With only 12 pages comprising the core document, it is a fast read. The language is also plain and easy to understand.

As to marketing, there is nothing wrong with advertising one’s credentials including training, experience, and appropriate certification(s) whether it be thermography or home inspection. When it comes to training of any type, I would recommend that one carefully consider course curriculum, instructor’s qualifications and experience, and the integrity of the training firm.

One should not assume that all infrared training is standardized or equal in the same way that homeowners should not assume that all home inspectors are equally qualified just because they have similar certifications.

The intent of my post is an attempt to answer your question fairly and directly without any marketing hype. Having nearly 25 years experience as a practicing thermographer, instructor, and standards developer, I can assure you that the topic of certification in thermography is one of perpetual interest and frequent confusion.

Lastly, should anyone have further questions on the topic of certification, I would invite you to contact me directly.

I’m missing something here. I apologise but I didn’t see Mr Snell abuse anyone personally. Just ventured his opinion for those of us trying to understand something about the certification process

99.5 % of the skills needed to be able to use an IR camera properly during an inspection comes from being able to perform a proper inspection and nothing to do with the camera itself. You have to know where to aim the camera and what you are aiming at.

Home inspectors have a vast, wide knowledge and understanding of the thing their inspecting (the home), just like medical doctors understand the human body.

A level 1 scalpel school could probably teach me to use a scalpel in 2 days, but would you have me perform surgery on your body? Hell no. The course would be totally useless to a non-doctor because 99.5% of the skills required to properly perform surgery have nothing to do with using the scalpel…just like a Level 1, or 2, or 3, or 57 course on IR cameras is totally useless to non-InterNACHI members.

There is good reason for www.infraredcertified.com requiring membership in InterNACHI FIRST…


I have to disagree with this, and really see it as an unhelpful advertising or self promotion post.

At least as I read Dan’s question and as an inspector who uses IR. Apllying IR to a home inspection certainly requires good knowledge of home inspection. But USING IR, understanding heat transfer, analysing the infrared images all REQUIRE specific training in Infrared. The training that an experienced HI gets in any competent IR certification course will teach them those things. Dan is an experienced HI and that will allow him to apply them, that was not the question or pertenent to the discussion.

I think you are just trying to elicit a response!! Because that is the dumbest thing I have heard in a long time.

There are a lot of Inspectors here that lurk behind the scenes (readers not posters) that may look to you for advise. You are doing them a disservice by making such comments.


Well said both Kevins!!

Kevin and Kevin

How is this statement wrong?

Flir/ITC Has a 3 day Building Science certification course for Thermographers that addressess precisely the above statement made by Nick!

Clueless in Nova Scotia…again.

I have to disagree as well Nick, we have all seen X-rays, ultrasounds, MRI’s etc. The images are cool but we don’t have the slightest idea what they mean. The doctors and techs do because of a combination of training in the human body and the technology. The same holds true for Thermal Imaging in my opinion, I took John’s course and I believe it is a great intro. However after aquiring a camera and practising with it for a while I quickly understood the need for more in depth training on the science behind the camera. I understand the building and its components but it is very easy to misread the image being displayed by the camera, is the annomily that you see a true emitted image or is it a shadow or a reflection etc. That comes with learning about the science and understanding the thermal properties of different materials and how they act in certain conditions. These are not just a fancy digital camera or moisture meter, they can make an untrained person look very foolish and add liability just as quick as it can make you look like the hero and limit liability. Thats my opinion.

Very well said!



You have just taken a portion (first half) from his post and quoted it. Re-read the entire comment again.

I’m referring to the second half of his comments:

This is just another “ra ra” promotion from Nick plugging Infrared Certified. Which is OK, but to suggest that “less” training is somehow better than more formal and complete training is not very good logic.

Level I, II, and III courses are WAY more than just “IR Cameras” and to state that these courses are totally “Useless” to non-InterNACHI members is stupid.




I will allow Nick to respond for himself, however IMO I interpret the latter part of Nick’s comments as his way of driving home his point!

How was your Level 3 training? Congratulations!

BTW I will be taking my Level 2 in Dec. with Flir/ITC.

And a pretty good opinion at that!

Just surf around the web that all the IR sites and you will see a whole bunch of nothing out there depicted as something that it is not. Fortunately for us, the majority of the good IR sites that exists are affiliated with this association (inspectors and vendors alike).

[size=2]This site is an invaluable resource of dedicated individuals willing to pass on their training and experience. That in of itself provides some of the the “experience” that is necessary beyond the formal training and certification process[FONT=Tahoma].

You guys keep up the good work and keep us thinking!