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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.

Coatings inspectors test coating applications using environmental, destructive and nondestructive testing procedures. The Society for Protective Coatings, the National Highway Institute and schools affiliated with the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) offer training suitable for aspiring coating inspectors through courses or certificate and associate's degree programs.

Schools and Organizations with Coating Inspector Training

Coating inspection programs can be found here:

Training Provider Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016
National Association of Corrosion Engineers Houston, Texas Organization Certificate N/A**
Society for Protective Coatings Pittsburgh, PA Organization Certificate N/A**
National Highway Institute Arlington, VA Organization Certificate N/A**
Seward County Community College Liberal, Kansas 2-year, Public Associate, certificate In-district $2,688
In-state $2,816
Out-of-state $3,904*
Kilgore College Kilgore, Texas 2-year, Public Associate, certificate In-district $1,464
In-state $3,120
Out-of-state $4,320*
Lone Star College The Woodlands, Texas 2-year, Public Certificate In-district $1,504
In-state $3,184
Out-of-state $3,544
Houston Community College Houston, Texas 2-year, Public Associate, certificate In-district $1,632
In-state $3,360
Out-of-state $3,756

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics, **School websites

School Selection Criteria

When choosing a program:

  • Individuals may wish to seek out programs that cover a variety of coating materials and inspection methods.
  • 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.
  • Students may want to seek institutions that offer programs that adhere to environmental standards as well as health and safety regulations.

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 and 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 and 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.

Before selecting a coating inspector program, students should verify that the coursework is diverse, adheres to applicable regulations and includes professional development credits.

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