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PCN certification

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PCN – Personnel Certification in Non-Destructive Testing – is a scheme for the certification of competence of non-destructive testing operators. Certification is given for the traditional NDT methods and has been extended to cover guided wave testing and condition monitoring methods such as acoustic emission, infrared thermography, lubrication management and analysis, and vibration analysis.

The PCN Scheme is maintained by BINDT and is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to provide independent evidence that PCN satisfies the requirements of relevant British, European, and international standards.

To learn about ASNT NDT Certification read our blog :


Beginners Guide to Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) – Updated 2020

Want to know why you should choose NDT as career, Read :

ndt 2

NDT as a Career

 PCN/GEN –  GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR QUALIFICATION AND PCN CERTIFICATION OF NDT PERSONNEL. describes a system for the qualification and certification of personnel who perform industrial non-destructive testing.

Candidates, whether employed, self-employed or unemployed

  • shall provide documentary evidence of satisfactory completion of a course of training at an ATO approved by BINDT;
  • provide verifiable documentary evidence in a form acceptable to BINDT (a correctly completed form PSL/30 satisfies this requirement) that the required experience has been gained under qualified supervision;.
  • undertake to abide by the Code of Ethics, published as CP27, for candidates and certificates holders
  • provide documentary evidence of vision satisfying the requirements of form PSL/44.
  •  sign a non-disclosure agreement indicating their commitment not to release confidential examination materials or participate in fraudulent test-taking practices form PSL/56a supplied by the AQB.
  • inform PCN of any significant interruption that will affect the scope of his/her certification.
  • inform PCN of any issue that may affect the scope of his/her certification i.e. significant interruption, or failure to meet the continuity requirements.

Approved Training Organisation (ATO) – A legal entity assessed against the criteria in CEN ISO/TR 25108 and approved by BINDT to provide specified training courses for personnel intending to attempt a PCN or other specified examination.

Authorised Qualifying Body (AQB) – A body, independent of any single predominant interest, satisfying the criteria detailed in PCN document reference CP9 and authorised by the British Institute of NDT to prepare and administer PCN examinations to qualify NDT personnel.

Levels of PCN certification

Level 1 : An individual certified to Level 1 has demonstrated competence to carry out NDT according to written instructions and under the supervision of Level 2 or Level 3 personnel. Within the scope of the competence defined on the certificate, Level 1 personnel may be authorised by the employer to perform the following in accordance with NDT instructions:

  • set up NDT equipment;
  • perform the tests;
  • record and classify the results of the tests according to written criteria;
  • report the results.

Note: Level 1 certified personnel shall neither be responsible for the choice of test method or technique to be used nor for the interpretation of test results.

Level 2  : An individual certified to Level 2 has demonstrated competence to perform NDT according to NDT procedures. Within the scope of the competence defined on the certificate, Level 2 personnel may be authorised by the employer to:

  • select the NDT technique for the test method to be used;
  • define the limitations of application of the testing method;
  • translate NDT codes, standards, specifications, and procedures into NDT instructions adapted to the actual working conditions;
  • set up and verify equipment settings;
  • perform and supervise tests;
  • interpret and evaluate results according to applicable standards, codes, specifications, or procedures;
  • prepare written NDT instructions
  • carry out and supervise all tasks at or below level 2;
  • provide guidance for personnel at or below level 2, and
  • report the results of non-destructive tests.

Level 3 : An individual certified to Level 3 has demonstrated competence to perform and direct NDT operations for which he is certified. Level 3 personnel have demonstrated:

  • the competence to evaluate and interpret results in terms of existing standards, codes, and specifications;
  • sufficient practical knowledge of applicable materials, fabrication, process, and product technology to select NDT methods, establish NDT techniques, and assist in establishing acceptance criteria where none are otherwise available;
  • a general familiarity with other NDT methods.
  • Within the scope of the competence defined on the certificate, Level 3 personnel may be authorised to:
  • assume full responsibility for a test facility or examination centre and staff;
  • establish, review for editorial and technical correctness and validate NDT instructions and procedures;
  • interpret codes, standards, specifications and procedures;
  • designate the particular test methods, techniques and procedures to be used;
  • within the scope and limitations of any certification held (see clause 6.3.4), carry out all tasks at all levels, and
  • provide guidance for NDT personnel at all levels.
  • Level 3 certificated personnel may be authorised to carry out, manage and supervise PCN qualification examinations on behalf of the British Institute of NDT.
  • Where Level 3 duties require the individual to apply routine NDT by a method or methods within a particular product or industry sector, the British Institute of NDT strongly recommends that industry demand that this person should hold and maintain Level 2 certification in the applicable method(s) and sector(s).


The candidate shall fulfil the minimum requirements of vision and training prior to the qualification examination and shall fulfil the minimum requirements for industrial experience prior to certification

minimum required duration of training
minimum duration of experience for certification.

Vision Requirements

The PCN requirements for colour perception and acuity of vision, together with the qualifications of those administering the vision tests, are fully defined in PCN document PSL/44, which includes a form for recording the results of vision tests and PSL/44 Annex A for guidance on what a company’s procedure for vision testing is expected to include. The requirements are reproduced below for ease of information:

  • Candidates for PCN examinations will be required, on the day of the examination, to provide proof of a satisfactory vision test conducted within the 12 months preceding the examination.
  • Near vision acuity shall permit reading a minimum of Jaeger number 1 or Times Roman N 4.5 or equivalent letters (having a height of 1,6 mm) at not less than 30 cm with one or both eyes, either corrected or uncorrected;
  • Colour vision shall be sufficient that the candidate can distinguish and differentiate contrast between the colours or shades of grey used in the NDT method concerned as specified by the employer.

NOTE: Subsequent to certification, the documented tests of visual acuity shall be carried out at least every twelve months and verified by the employer.

Qualification Examination Content – Levels 1 and 2

The qualification examination consists of written general and specific parts, and a specific practical examination covering a given NDT method applied to specimens representative of products in one or more industrial sectors.

The general and specific written examinations are comprised mainly of multi-choice answer questions

number of general questions

Specific Examination

  • The specific examination includes only validated questions selected in an unpredictable way from the collection of specific questions approved by the British Institute of NDT at the time of the examination.
  • All Level 1 Specific Theory Papers have 25 questions. All Level 2 Specific Theory Papers have 30 questions.
  • During the specific examination, the candidate shall be required to answer multiple-choice questions, including questions involving calculations, written procedures, and questions on product technology, codes, standards and specifications.

Practical Examination

The practical examination is designed to ascertain the ability of the candidate to:

i. make the required settings;

ii. operate the test equipment properly;

iii. perform testing of prescribed components relating to the industrial sector concerned;

iv. record and to analyse the resultant information to the degree required according to written instructions for Level 1 or a code, standard, specification or a procedure for Level 2.

Qualification Examination Content – Level 3

All candidates for level 3 certification in any NDT method shall have successfully completed (with a grade of ≥ 70%) the practical examination for level 2 in the relevant sector and method, except for the drafting of NDT instructions for level 1

Basic Examination.

The basic examination shall be passed first and the result will remain valid, provided that the first main method examination is passed within five years after passing the basic examination. A candidate holding a valid level 3 certificate is exempt from the need to retake the basic examination.

Examination questions shall be selected from the current collection of questions approved by BINDT at the time of the examination. The number of questions set will be as defined in Table 4.

All the questions are of the multiple choice answer type. The total time allowed for this examination is 3 hours.

number of basic examination questions

Main Method Examination

written examination, at Level 3, which demonstrates the candidate’s general and specific knowledge of the applicable NDT method, and the ability to write NDT procedures for the NDT method as applied in the industrial or product sector(s) for which certification is sought.

The duration of the examination is 1 hour for part D, 40 minutes for part E, and 4 hours for part F.

Main method examination L-3

Renewal and Recertification

Levels 1 & 2

  • 5-year Renewal (issue 01)
  • Recertification by examination (issue 01 or 02)

Level 3

  • 5-year Renewal (issue 01)
  • Recertification by examination (issue 01 or 02)

References :


Feature image : Photo by Mario Caruso on Unsplash

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2 thoughts on “PCN certification”

  1. Hi,
    I already have ASNT NDT qualifications and have worked in NDT for many years.
    Can I get my qualifications transferred into PCN?
    Is there any way to just sit PCN exams without doing the courses?
    Thank you

    1. I don’t think so it is possible to directly sit in exams, because both have different standards for personnel certification. however you should approach to a PCN L-III for exact guidelines.

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